Recently a friend of mine that works on Mobile Development, with a company that will remain nameless, was in Las Vegas for one of their annual conventions. As we sat down to lunch we began discussing our experiences, successes, and even failures in the mobile spectrum. My friend develops separate mobile instances for their clients and I have chosen to develop a singular, responsive website design, also called fluid or adaptive website design, for mine.
I certainly understand that companies such as DudaMobile make their entire business model out of designing and developing stand alone mobile websites. Unless you plan on launching an application for your business in the Android and Apple markets, this is just unnecessary. Above all else you are likely spending money in a place that could be easily avoided.
The Cost Comparison
Chances are that you consider costs when deciding on direction for your mobile strategy. There is no doubt you need to be accessible on every device imaginable, the only question is how you get there. While the initial cost of creating a responsive web design may be higher, due to the substantial amount of optimization necessary to render your website well across devices, the long term costs tend to be lower.
Spending the additional $10/mo to host a separate mobile instance may be a relatively small cost, but you are responsible to update every version of your site, every time an update happens. That means that when you change a picture, add a link, or heaven forbid add a new product to your ecommerce store, you have to do it multiple times, then test the changes or additions, then publish. You have literally doubled your work load for ongoing updates. Miss a step and your sites are no longer true versions of each other. Not to mention many of the mobile development tools and softwares are incapable of giving you an ecommerce store on your mobile version.
This doesn’t refer to the updates and changes you will be making to your website, but rather the maintenance needed to keep your mobile only website up to date with the latest trends and technology. You know the latest Droid and Apple phones will premier and be on the market within a year of their last release, but what about other manufacturers. Technology changes faster and faster these day. Having to update your mobile developed website every time one changes is not only time consuming, but a never ending cost. Responsive websites quite frankly have none of these costs to worry about.
Separate Code Bases
If the thought of maintaining two separate versions hasn’t already hit you in the head like a pile of bricks, consider this. You are maintaining two separate code bases for your one website. This means that if you are lucky enough to have someone in house, you are likely paying them twice as much based on the fact that they have to be that much more knowledgeable regarding their expertise.
Return On Investment
After cost, ROI is most likely your highest priority. Low maintenance, better cross device functionality and high impact across platforms make responsive web design the winner by a mile. On a long term basis the obvious restrictions of single screen size targeting, high maintenance and ongoing labor costs make mobile development a difficult pill to swallow.
As the owner of a company that offers affordable responsive website design, I am truly biased about which I would choose. However, by the end of the conversation, my friend conceded that my approach was far more advanced and cost effective by a long shot. He also admitted that if he told his superiors about my methods, he would be out of a job. We both laughed, finished our lunches, and look forward to seeing each other at next years conference.
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