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Making Mobile Responsive Design a Reality

February 05, 2013

We are living in an increasingly mobile-centric world. Recent research says that nearly one-third of American adults now own a tablet or e-reader, while 50% of U.S. adults own a smartphone. Tablet and smartphone use continues to escalate and it is estimated that tablet use will soon outweigh desktop use. As a publisher, you might be seeing a significant rise in your own site visits from people using mobile devices. If you aren’t, it’s only a matter of time.

It’s imperative to ensure your readers are having a positive and engaging experience when accessing your content using a mobile device, or you risk losing them to other, friendlier venues.

To App or Not to App?

Digiday posted an insightful piece in which they asked publishers and media executives about their mobile strategy, weighing app development vs. a responsive design approach. The consensus? It’s not either/or—and in fact, most chose some combination of the two. Yet, Jim Bankoff of Vox Media distilled the heartbeat of any approach down to four words: seamless experiences across devices.

The reality is, for small publishers, investing money and resources into app development can be a tedious and costly process. Therefore, choosing to focus on responsive design for your website, first, is not only a rational, but very cost effective approach.

Selecting a SaaS CMS platform with ultimate adaptability and flexibility should enable you and your provider to bring mobile responsive coding and design to the forefront, with functionality as seamless as the best eNewsletter Integration and cross-browser capability—without costing you additional personnel or the fees associated with mobile app development.

How Do You Create a More Mobile Responsive Website?

If your baseline approach is to create a seamless experience that your readers love, are already accustomed to and will not be inclined to question, then it makes sense that your top priority would be to:

Create an App-Like Experience. 

  • Think in terms of app-reading styles: swiping instead of scrolling or horizontal vs. vertical.
  • Apps are about action. This is an opportunity to distill your calls of action down to one, clear, simple fluid movement. It’s essentially a highly refined version of user-friendly navigation. Make pathways obvious with bold visuals and strategic placement, which leads to:
  • Think buttons and icons instead of text and tabs. In the app world, images equate to action. Make it easier to take that action.
  • Make your homepage the activity center. Present all actions on your site, right at the homepage, so readers don’t need to search for what they want to do. Do it with a clean and intuitive design. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Which includes:
  • Optimizing for retina display: make buttons/icons bigger to foster touch screen capability, include forward and back buttons, and use bigger fonts.

In addition to creating a more app-like experience, Rob O’Regan talks about four more web design principles:

Reduce the Clutter.

This is integral to the app-like experience, but also addresses the issue of scale with a variety of mobile use. Again, make it visual, with images and less text and keep it clean. Clutter amplifies at smaller scales.

Slim it Down to Speed it Up.

If you use lean implementation, you are less likely to run into slow load times—a key factor in whether or not people actually arrive at your site. When you consider that the average visit can be about one minute and not usually more than 3, every second counts. Of course, it’s important to figure out how to keep them there too.

Dig Deep on Social Sharing.

Readers are not only interested in what’s most read these days, but what is most shared. So aside from including your social sharing buttons, consider adding most shared indicators to your homepage and shared tickers to individual articles. 

Integrate the Ad Experience.

It’s a time of great experimentation with online advertising. Several approaches are being tested with the goal of still providing valuable ad space while minimizing disruptions to readers. Some publications are trying interstitials: where ads appear between pages, while others are trying to surface custom ad content. But there are ample opportunities for lead generation—including custom buyers guide listings (download our Microwave Journal Case Study to learn more).  The point? You don’t want your ads to contribute to the clutter or disrupt the experience, which can be a lot trickier on a mobile device. Be deliberate, experiment and get creative.

ePublishing’s team prioritizes mobile responsive design, as a company standard. We are working to fully integrate mobile responsive design into all of our clients’ websites, so you can focus on what’s important: your content, your readers, your revenue.  


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