Gravit-e Blog

May 03, 2014

Making Our Mobile Website: Fixed Versus Responsive Design

After March's post were I looked at some mobile traffic data, I've decided to get a mobile website version of our current website built. Almost immediately the first hurdle popped up. Fixed versus responsive design. Whether to have a separate mobile website or one that responds to the device accessing it.

Fixed Mobile Website

This is the type of website I think that most people guess when thinking of mobile. A separate paired down website. Go the URL on a PC and you'll get www.bbc.co.uk, go to it on a mobile device you'll get www.m.bbc.co.uk. Two different websites for two different devices. This is what I'd assumed was the standard for all mobile websites. Until I was informed that there was another way. 

Regular Website

Microsoft website as it appears in a desktop browser.

Scaled Down In Browser

Same browser, same window, same desktop. The window has just been scaled down. 

What's interesting about this approach is that it allows a website to scale depending on what device accesses it. As the screen size goes down the website changes its appearance to match.

The advantage of this approach is that it's accessible my multiple decides, no need to build a completely different website. Assuming the design is well done, it will be able to absorb new content added to the site, so no need to manage two different websites. 

I think that this approach will fit our needs the best. Our mobile traffic, although growing, is still a small percentage. So the cost of developing a brand new website seems excessive. We don't have any specific service that requires mobile access. Nothing that really takes advantage of mobility. So developing a fixed website would just be showcasing out current website in the form of a www.m.gravit-e.ca domain. 

Also the idea is to have a website that'll be more user friendly for those mobile users we attract. At this point our desktop website is our mobile website. As the percentage of mobile users grows we'll have something in place for them. A site that will at least be more comfortable to use on their device. In the future, if mobile traffic starts to dominate, then maybe a fixed, separate, website would be worth it. Something that provides a unique function to the devices visiting it. But until that date I think the responsive design is the way to go. 

Now about that design. The Microsoft website is a good example of what I'd like. I've also seen it reproduced on other responsive designs. Odds are I'll take its idea of stacking the different sections one ontop of each other. Probably with our slide show below. I think that approach will suit our current need. The one that's still giving me greif are our content pages. The design isn't uniform, so I'll have to think of how a solution that can apply to all but not negatively affect any one page in favour of another. That's the next hurdle.

March 20, 2014

Just Some Mobile Website Data

On a whim I decided to compare some mobile traffic data for our website. I've talked about mobile traffic surging past desktop but I've never reported on our own data. Below is a little chart showing my findings:

Mobile Data

There is a positive trend here. See:

Mobile Data Trend

I'll admit that I could use some more data points and I'm not able to determine the quality of the traffic. But I think it still points towards a potential theory. That the percentage of traffic coming from mobile devices goes up as time goes on. How long and by how much is up for grabs, but maybe there is some truth to the predicted dominance of mobile traffic. 

I'll have to see what more data shows before making some huge conclusions. But I think it's safe to predict that mobile websites are going to be important for small businesses in the future. Not only because more people are using tablets and phones, but because our reasons for using the devices changes what we need from the website. I find that often I'm Googling a business site not to find out about it but to see where it is. I'm walking around so it range of stellar products isn't that relevant. I want to know where it is. Having a website is important but we increasingly needing different versions depending on where we are and what device we're using. 

Just thinking about it, an article on Techvibes reported on how only 45% of small businesses have a regular website at all. As more people turn to mobile devices these organizations could find themselves even further behind the technological curve.

But what if you  have a regular website already? It costs money to get a mobile website up and running. If your data looks anything like ours. Then odds are you're not going to be generating huge amounts of interest, just yet anyways. I'm still trying to figure this one out myself. But the one thing I keep on coming back to is if we have something, we can collect data from it. Even if it's a mobile friendly version of the current website. Then the data from it can inform what to do next. Maybe visitors are looking over your products and you could use some more effective call-to-actions. Maybe they use the website for contact information and an integration with Google Maps might go over well. You'll only know until it's up and running. 

Update: I've made some mostions towards getting a mobile website up and running. Our first problem, fixed versus responsive design, which to choose? 

September 06, 2013

Building Your Own SaaS: The Things You Need To Know

There are two ways to develop a SaaS, do it yourself or get someone to do it for you. If you're going to build everything from scratch yourself and have the necessary skills, you might want to stop reading and actually start developing your SaaS now. However, not everyone has the necessary programming skills so an option is to hire someone else to do it for you. 

The Things You Need To Know: Hiring A Developer

When it comes around to finding a team to build your SaaS, options are limited to hiring an in-house development team or an outside developer. An in-house team, at least initially, seems to make the most sense. You can control everything and monitor development from start to finish. However, this comes with a larger price tag. There is the cost of renting an office, equipment, servers, and salaries, so unless you have a big budget an in-house team might cost too much to deliver the SaaS you need.  

Why Not An Outside Developer?

  • Easier To Get Started: Typically a developer will simply outline the requirements for the project and give you an estimate. It could be a one time sum or a more flexible approach, but as long as your idea is clear any good developer will be able to give you a budget and a clear development schedule. 
  • Develop Your Idea: A developer will also help you to build upon your project,they will have insight into the requirements behind building the SaaS. 
  • Lower Cost: A developer typically has a range of clients they deal with, so all those costs associated with an in-house team are spread over multiple projects.
  • Businesses Compete For You: If your SaaS idea is good and the project worth while to developers, then your in a position to pick and choose the one who offers you the best deal. 
  • Frees Up Time: An outside developer, once the project has started, will get to work and report back to you regularly. Instead of being in the trenches with your in-house team you are free to operate your business. 
  • No Experience Required: There's no need to understand the technicalities behind building a SaaS, you'll just be presented with different versions of the finished product until everything is fully completed. 

An in-house team or an outside developer really comes down to a personal preference. If you truly think that you need to hire a full team to build your SaaS, then do that, it's your idea at the end of the day. What the developer brings is that it's a great alternative way to get your SaaS without the budget for an in-house team. You might loose a bit of control in terms of internal development, but if you find the right developer and communicate your idea effectively nothing will really be lost. Developers rarely, and never if they are good, just disappear into a darkened room where all you can hear is the sound of keys clacking. They will talk to you and update you on the progress of your project whenever you need it. 

For more information on what it takes to build a SaaS visit our SaaS Development page. Also if you have any questions or even a project you'd like to get started contact us.

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