How to Create a Mobile Friendly, Responsive Website?
Mobile friendly or responsive web design is a relative new design technique used to create websites that can easily adapt to larger or smaller screen resolutions. The concept of this technique is to create website layouts that can be easily used from both desktop and mobile devices and provide the best user experience.
We have talked in a previous post how important is to convert your existing website to mobile friendly. On April 21, 2015 Google will implement the mobile-friendly variable into their search algorithm. This means, that website that are responsive will have priority in the search results. So if you have not updated your site, please consider doing it. We don’t know yet how big will be the impact, but the buzz around it is quite big.
In this article I will show couple options to create a professional responsive website for your business. Will also give you some resources where you can find good design inspirations, tools and software that will help you in the process.
Creating a mobile-friendly site with a website builder
If you want to create a simple and basic website for your company, probably the best option for you is to make it with a site-builder. Many hosting companies offer different tools to design your website with; my favorite tool is Weebly, that is available for free with an iPage hosting account.
Weebly is a very easy to use software, that does not require any programing or technical skills, almost anyone can create a website with ease. It is not needed to install and software to your computer or copy and paste files, this tool works online into your web-browser.
With the drag-and-drop functionality, you can create custom layouts, add images, galleries, multiple text columns, contact forms, Google maps, embed Youtube videos or flash animations, upload documents, basically anything it is needed to set up a basic website.
The tool allows you to add new pages and customize them as you wish. It is also possible to select a template for free from their design gallery. There are hundreds of pre-made designs available in the tool, so it is very easy to find a style that matches your requirements and niche. All these designs are responsive, and you can check it out how your website will look on different mobile phones. It is also possible to customize the look of the website on smart-phones by enabling or disabling different elements.
The publishing of the website is also very simple. When you are ready with the pages and the website looks good on both mobile and desktop, with a click of a button your site is published to the domain you chose before. Later it is possible to edit the website or add more pages.
The builder has some great in-built features, but it is very hard or probably impossible to extend the functionality of the website. You can only use the features that it offered within the software, can’t have a blog or a forum, can’t create an online shop or allow users to register. If you don’t care about all these extra features, and want a standard website with few pages to display your business address and phone number, Weebly is just perfect for you. For advanced website functionality probably you should continue reading and see what a CMS can offer to you.
Building your site with a content management system
A while ago we have written an article and compared the top 3 most popular content management system. We have talked about WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. These software are open source, that means their code is publicly available and can be used for free.
The software has to be installed to your domain and will also require support for MySQL database. Most of web hosting companies offer the one-click software installation feature, so you don’t have to worry about the manual installation process.
These software comes with standard core features that enable you to add pages, create custom layouts, and set up contact forms, etc. To extend the core functionality of WordPress for example, you will have to add plugins. There are thousands of plugins available for free download so this step will not be a problem. If you are stuck on the community forum you can get help quickly.
There are also thousands of themes available on the internet; the latest designs are already built with responsive layout. So setting up a responsive website using a content management system will not be very complicated, however it requires more time to do it.
Hiring a web design / development company
If you don’t have the time to learn how to use a content management system, or want that your website is taken care by professionals, probably you should hire a company who will do the job for you. In this case upon agreement, you don’t need to take care of your hosting account or web design, just tell the company what you want and they deliver the final product. The cost of a custom made responsive website could be expensive, but it may worth considering it.
Finally compare the above mentioned options
Whatever option you choose to build your website, you will need time and an initial investment. In the case of a website builder the invested time and money is minimal but the website is limited in terms of functionality. If you choose an open source software like WordPress or Joomla to build your site with, the financial investment will be also minimal (you will still have to pay for hosting) but the required time to get it done is significantly more. Hiring a firm that will do the design and development will definitely save a lot of your time, but it requires a huge initial investment.
So which is best option for you to get your responsive website online?