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The Dilemma: A Standalone Mobile Website or Responsive Design?

by Capt. Samarth Singh on November 6th, 2012

A coder’s nightmare, no doubt, cross browser compatibility now seems a thing of the past. It has become the lesser of two evils; with the world having unknowingly stepped up the challenge owing to the rapid introduction of mobile devices and the browsers that go with them, in a very short span of time, roughly 2007 – 2011.

A few years ago, website owners and operators across the globe were faced with the age old herculean task of having to deal with Internet Explorer standards, versus the other, more Web 2.0 friendly browsers like Firefox and Chrome. That was soon to change with the advent of the iPad, other Android Tablets and the constantly evolving touchscreen smartphone range. What used to be a standard fixed resolution website, soon turned into one that sprawled all across the screen and was expected to adapt to different screen resolutions and aspect ratios. This becomes even more of a challenge, design wise, with Apple, for instance, conveniently deviating from Flash standards, as with several other low end smartphone and mobile devices. Not just compatibility, data connection speed poses a huge challenge to running a common PC and Mobile website, especially for many countries where 3G speeds over data are virtually unheard of, let’s not even get into 4G.

But what’s the biggest challenge developers’ face today? The 2 options are simple:

  • Implement bulletproof code and design which can get impractical and frustrating sometimes.
  • Launch a whole new mobile version of the website, which practically doubles administration effort and possibly the associated costs, even with a common content or data pool.

Most would advocate that the first option offers simplicity of administration given that the developer manages one set of files. On the contrary, opposed to popular opinion, multiple style sheets to serve different environments could in fact lead to a bigger mess than two separate websites.

What the developer – website owner team eventually chooses is more of a judgment call. One can never take away from the fact that the core essence of any website lies in effective content exchange while maintaining 100% workability which translates to 100% compatibility, round the clock!  Short of that, a little extra effort towards either of the two options is warranted and will most certainly be required till a more acceptable browser gets developed, or one of the current players manages to crack the cross compatibility code.

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