Responsive Web’s Message to Mobile Website Creators: “Rest in Peace”

Posted in 1WD Features, Usability, Web Design • Posted on 15 Comments

If I were to begin this article by telling you that the mobile web has arrived, and it has taken our world by a storm, and it will most likely change the way we create and use websites, it’ll probably be a waste of time and effort. We all know that the future of the internet lies in mobile – if your website does not cater to mobile solutions or devices and focuses entirely on desktops, you are sure to lose a good deal of visitors. Whether or not we decide to give up our desktops and laptops, at some point of time in our daily routine, we do surf the internet via our smartphones and tablets, and trust me, nothing is more annoying than having to browse a non-mobile friendly website on a cramped screen.

One may ask, if mobile is the future of the internet, mobile website creation software must be selling like hot-cakes, right?

Actually, no.

There used to be a time when mobile website creation tools were very popular. In fact, a lot of premium software for mobile website creation had become synonymous with web design itself. However, as of late, they have fallen out of favor.

Why?

Well, this is what we shall be exploring in this article.

Mobile Website Creation…What?

The fact that I have to include this segment, before starting off with the real topic itself, simply shows that what I’m saying is right — mobile website creation tools are indeed dying.

Seriously, if I were to write about “WordPress is dying” (Oh God, No!), would I need to tell you what WordPress is?

But anyway, for the sake of clarity, we shall name some major mobile site creation tools before we actual start predicting their demise.  So here they are:

  1. mobiSiteGalore
  2. mofuse
  3. bMobilized
  4. onvertWebsite
  5. Mobify

The above five aren’t, by any means, better (or worse) than the others. It’s just that these are the most popular of the lot, and counting their pros and cons is another story.

Now that you probably know what type of ‘mobile website creators’ I am talking about, let’s proceed with the article.

So, What is Killing Mobile Website Creation Software?

To cut the long story short, responsive web design.

Let’s read it again, slowly:

RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN IS KILLING MOBILE WEBSITE CREATION SOFTWARE.

How? Read on!

1. Evolution of Mobile Internet

Let’s face it: the world of the internet (or even technology, for that matter) is ever changing. We had floppy disks, and now even DVDs are becoming obsolete. A decade and a half ago, animated GIFs were the norm, but today, well, seriously, animated GIFs?

Similarly, mobile internet isn’t untouched by this evolution either. With the rapid evolution of browsers and technology, the manner in which we browse and interact with the web is changing overnight. With a concept such as responsive web design, a developer/designer can keep pace with the changing trends in a better, more organized manner, as compared to mobile website creation software.

Image Credit

In simple terms, relying on responsive design means you need not wait for your software provider to give you that HTML5 patch or update.

2. Need for SMART Uniformity

Ok, so when you visit a website on your mobile, say that of a government agency, what do you have on your mind? Chances are, you want to quickly get that piece of urgent information, such as check the status of an application that you filed, or read the latest tutorial of your favorite design blog, and so on. You probably won’t marvel for hours at the nifty hand-crafted awesome social sharing buttons in the sidebar, will you?

However, when you are browsing that same website via your laptop, you can afford to spend some time enjoying those social sharing buttons (like, clicking the “Tweet” button to your left, you know, I mean…like, share this article.)

Image Credit

Many mobile site creation tools focus too much on uniformity across mobile and desktop versions of a site. In fact, this usage of the term “version” itself is the culprit here – it simply leads to a misnomer such as “why should my website’s MOBILE VERSION be lacking in any manner”? Responsive website design, on the other hand, retains uniformity of content rather than appeal.

3. What is ‘Mobile’, again?

Quick, define “mobile device”.

Having a hard time?

Actually, with the rate at which new devices are evolving, it has become impossible to classify or define ‘mobile’ in rigid terms. What is mobile today, maybe a bulky mess tomorrow. This is what causes the problem – most mobile website creation tools rely on strict definitions – how often do you read “create websites optimized for phones in minutes”? Such claims are nothing but an assumption that the phones of today are going to stick around tomorrow, and will probably not be replaced by tablets (or, if you are innovative, a small screen dangling to your television remote).

Image Credit

Ideally, at the rate with which mobile web is evolving, responsive design is the best solution to design websites catering to the mobile audience.

4. Generic Recipe for Success (Failure?)

Before the advent of responsive web design and progressive enhancement (as well as disclosure), there used to be a generic recipe when designing mobile websites: this is mobile content, that is not. Most mobile web creation tools still stick to a modified form of that recipe. However, our mobile phones have now developed to an extent that you cannot really limit mobile content to a formula in particular. Truth is, we are still only learning to employ responsive and adaptive design in practice.

To understand this fully, visualize this: assume you have launched a book in two variants: hard cover and paper back. Now, since the paperback is the cheaper alternative, will you strip out a chapter of your book, because, after all, your hard cover version is the ‘bigger’ one?

I guess not.

(On an unrelated note, I shall now include a picture of a manuscript: just to facilitate “visualization”).

Image Credit

This is what being ‘adaptive’ means: for your book’s paperback version, you will retain the content in totality, but will also find an alternate place for the author bio or info on the hard cover’s inner jacket. Responsive web design makes allowances for such adaptation; many mobile website creation tools do not.

5. Adaptive, not Adapted

A few years back, whenever you visited a website via mobile, you were often greeted with a footer text (often annoyingly placed in the header, within the content, and five other hidden places like an Easter egg): “Switch to the full site.”

What? Full site?

So, you mean, this mobile site that I am browsing is half-baked? Incomplete? Semi-finished?

Placing such a demarcation between desktop and mobile sites, one being full and the other being, well, “half”, is a disaster. You are telling the world that your mobile website is not adaptive web design; it is, in fact, an adaptation of your “full” site.

Actually, this is arguably the single biggest reason why mobile website creation tools are failing: they tend to place a line of distinction between mobile sites and desktop sites (often blatantly referred to as “mobile version” and “normal version”). Exceptions apart, most mobile site creation tools believe in such demarcation.

Image Credit

True, a mobile site is different from a desktop one, but that doesn’t mean it is ‘separate’, does it? Being different here is a necessity, but being separate is a travesty. Responsive design, on the other hand, ensures that the website adapts to the user’s screen resolution, rather than leaving the mobile “version” an adaptation of the actual site.

In the End

Coming back to the question, are mobile site creation tools dead? Not totally, but yes, they are a dying breed. While it is possibile that newer mobile development tools which cater to the changing trends may come into vogue, overall, responsive web design has handed the pink slip to mobile site creation tools.

What do you think? When creating a website, do you prefer using a mobile site development software, or simply opt for responsive design? Feel free to leave a comment!

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Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.

15 Comments Best Comments First
  • Niels

    Friday, July 13th, 2012 16:04

    1

    …and on my iPad I get “?” for the last 4 Images (or whatever there should be) in this article…i Love frameworks like Silverlight or Flash – it works or not, but Not something in between just to Run ist also mobile

    0
  • Dean

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 22:36

    6

    I agree with Ashley.
    I think there are advantages to creating a specific mobile site. From a design point of view it depends on the design and functionalities you have on your site. Sometimes there are certain features you don’t need for mobile but you need for desktop. Personally, it’s also a bit limiting for me as a designer because I have to consider and design for different platforms and how they will look as opposed to designing a site for desktop and designing another one for mobile. But again it really depends on the project.

    0
  • Faisal Islam

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 23:04

    7

    I will prefer simply opt for responsive design…
    Thank you very much Uzayr

    0
  • Daquan Wright

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 18:28

    5

    I think the answer is “it depends” on the problem you are trying to solve. Responsive web design is great because it delivers the same content across the board, the only difference is how it is delivered. The experience should be seamless and enjoyable. Mobile app development is great because it strips away the fluff, because the important stuff needs to be accessible and quickly, which can be a better thing for web app counterparts that may otherwise end up bulky and unusable.

    When requirements are more strict on the mobile side of things, a mobile version of the site may be necessary. You have to look at the requirements of the business/users and then decide which route will give you the greatest benefits. Doing a separate mobile website allows you to manage resources better and it’s easier to lessen download times (something crucial when it comes to the mobile web).

    0
  • jejaktrend

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 14:47

    4

    I dislike to type in URL when I’m on phone.. mobile website creators are like flash developer, so move to app developer!

    0
  • Ashley

    Friday, July 13th, 2012 23:05

    2

    Im not entirely sure, but I think there still may be a couple advantages to having a separate mobile site. You don’t have to worry about loading time quite as much for the main site meant for laptops/pcs. So there’s more you can do with graphics, right? You could make some things disappear in a mobile browser, but I think things with the display:none; style still load…

    0
  • ethical hacking training

    Saturday, July 14th, 2012 05:09

    3

    yes technology field always give changing to us day by day, as well as our site also affected from these change but mobile users, ipad, users increase day by day so keep in mind when we create website for services, to make the site mobile comfortablity.. its helps in sales increase,, one line is very famous.. traffic increase sale also increase. because sale = traffic..

    thanks for sharing it..

    0
  • Stan

    Monday, July 16th, 2012 22:45

    8

    I agree with the answer is “it depends” on the situation and the needs of business.. Responsive web design is great as well as mobile website design. As long as it delivers the function and information that customers need at the point when they access from desktop or mobile device, we used different approach for our clients. But Mobile apps will have more advantages than mobile websites in the future:) that’s my view anyway. Thanks for your great article!

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 04:05

      9

      Yes, it’s all about having look in future. Of course, you can still avoid mobile and responsive, but for how long?

      0
  • teddy

    Monday, July 30th, 2012 15:18

    14

    Flash is dead, people. Also, we’re all going to have to learn to play well with responsive design. I believe it is going to be here for some time. App development is cool, but not practical for everybody.

    0
  • psobko

    Monday, August 13th, 2012 17:58

    15

    Ask any small business owner what a mobile website is and 75% of them will tell you. Ask any small business owner what a responsive design is they will stare at you with a blank face. This is the reason that services like these exist and will continue to thrive as long as the “mobile” buzzword is still in the public awareness.

    0
  • Ganesh

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 20:15

    13

    Hi ,

    I work with Mobify, one of the tools listed above. There are many ways to go mobile, and responsive CSS is one approach. We recently open-sourced our solution to go responsive: mobifyjs. Mobify.js is innovative because it uses javascript to remix the DOM elements, with granular control over resources like images/CSS and other scripts. This is completely done client-side. Seriously, give it a try, it’s completely open-source and free!

    It’s been used on a bunch of big sites: Starbucks, The New Yorker, Threadless, etc.

    The web has evolved, and Mobify has evolved with it.

    0
  • saha

    Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 08:17

    10

    Responsive design is best in every platform like Mobile device, desktop PC, laptop, notebook etc.

    0
  • Sergey

    Monday, July 23rd, 2012 08:32

    11

    Thanks for this article. Sure using responsive web design business owners can get more freedom and their client base can grow. Because a lot of people prepare use mobile phone or tablets. Also on the net you can find a lot of free programs and product for responsive web. For example using free responsive templates every can create his/her website very fast and without any special knowledge. But we need remember that every business can not be the same. And if some business good for PC + Tablet some business like just PC or just mobile. But anyway responsive its a huge jump to show our business on any device and any platform.

    0
    • Anand

      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 07:46

      12

      I agree with you. Responsive web design is great. We have changed our website responsive as well.

      0
  • psobko

    Monday, August 13th, 2012 17:58

    15

    Ask any small business owner what a mobile website is and 75% of them will tell you. Ask any small business owner what a responsive design is they will stare at you with a blank face. This is the reason that services like these exist and will continue to thrive as long as the “mobile” buzzword is still in the public awareness.

    0
  • teddy

    Monday, July 30th, 2012 15:18

    14

    Flash is dead, people. Also, we’re all going to have to learn to play well with responsive design. I believe it is going to be here for some time. App development is cool, but not practical for everybody.

    0
  • Ganesh

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 20:15

    13

    Hi ,

    I work with Mobify, one of the tools listed above. There are many ways to go mobile, and responsive CSS is one approach. We recently open-sourced our solution to go responsive: mobifyjs. Mobify.js is innovative because it uses javascript to remix the DOM elements, with granular control over resources like images/CSS and other scripts. This is completely done client-side. Seriously, give it a try, it’s completely open-source and free!

    It’s been used on a bunch of big sites: Starbucks, The New Yorker, Threadless, etc.

    The web has evolved, and Mobify has evolved with it.

    0
  • Sergey

    Monday, July 23rd, 2012 08:32

    11

    Thanks for this article. Sure using responsive web design business owners can get more freedom and their client base can grow. Because a lot of people prepare use mobile phone or tablets. Also on the net you can find a lot of free programs and product for responsive web. For example using free responsive templates every can create his/her website very fast and without any special knowledge. But we need remember that every business can not be the same. And if some business good for PC + Tablet some business like just PC or just mobile. But anyway responsive its a huge jump to show our business on any device and any platform.

    0
    • Anand

      Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 07:46

      12

      I agree with you. Responsive web design is great. We have changed our website responsive as well.

      0
  • saha

    Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 08:17

    10

    Responsive design is best in every platform like Mobile device, desktop PC, laptop, notebook etc.

    0
  • Stan

    Monday, July 16th, 2012 22:45

    8

    I agree with the answer is “it depends” on the situation and the needs of business.. Responsive web design is great as well as mobile website design. As long as it delivers the function and information that customers need at the point when they access from desktop or mobile device, we used different approach for our clients. But Mobile apps will have more advantages than mobile websites in the future:) that’s my view anyway. Thanks for your great article!

    0
    • Dainis Graveris

      Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 04:05

      9

      Yes, it’s all about having look in future. Of course, you can still avoid mobile and responsive, but for how long?

      0
  • Faisal Islam

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 23:04

    7

    I will prefer simply opt for responsive design…
    Thank you very much Uzayr

    0
  • Dean

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 22:36

    6

    I agree with Ashley.
    I think there are advantages to creating a specific mobile site. From a design point of view it depends on the design and functionalities you have on your site. Sometimes there are certain features you don’t need for mobile but you need for desktop. Personally, it’s also a bit limiting for me as a designer because I have to consider and design for different platforms and how they will look as opposed to designing a site for desktop and designing another one for mobile. But again it really depends on the project.

    0
  • Daquan Wright

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 18:28

    5

    I think the answer is “it depends” on the problem you are trying to solve. Responsive web design is great because it delivers the same content across the board, the only difference is how it is delivered. The experience should be seamless and enjoyable. Mobile app development is great because it strips away the fluff, because the important stuff needs to be accessible and quickly, which can be a better thing for web app counterparts that may otherwise end up bulky and unusable.

    When requirements are more strict on the mobile side of things, a mobile version of the site may be necessary. You have to look at the requirements of the business/users and then decide which route will give you the greatest benefits. Doing a separate mobile website allows you to manage resources better and it’s easier to lessen download times (something crucial when it comes to the mobile web).

    0
  • jejaktrend

    Sunday, July 15th, 2012 14:47

    4

    I dislike to type in URL when I’m on phone.. mobile website creators are like flash developer, so move to app developer!

    0
  • ethical hacking training

    Saturday, July 14th, 2012 05:09

    3

    yes technology field always give changing to us day by day, as well as our site also affected from these change but mobile users, ipad, users increase day by day so keep in mind when we create website for services, to make the site mobile comfortablity.. its helps in sales increase,, one line is very famous.. traffic increase sale also increase. because sale = traffic..

    thanks for sharing it..

    0
  • Ashley

    Friday, July 13th, 2012 23:05

    2

    Im not entirely sure, but I think there still may be a couple advantages to having a separate mobile site. You don’t have to worry about loading time quite as much for the main site meant for laptops/pcs. So there’s more you can do with graphics, right? You could make some things disappear in a mobile browser, but I think things with the display:none; style still load…

    0
  • Niels

    Friday, July 13th, 2012 16:04

    1

    …and on my iPad I get “?” for the last 4 Images (or whatever there should be) in this article…i Love frameworks like Silverlight or Flash – it works or not, but Not something in between just to Run ist also mobile

    0

Comments are closed.

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