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Attorney Website Design Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mobile vs. Responsive Design: What it means for your law firm’s website?

You can’t go to a restaurant, a local sporting event, the airport or a business meeting without being surrounded by people using their smart phones to surf the web and check email on the go. With the number of cell phone-owning Americans who surf the web from their mobile devices doubling since 2009, it's no surprise that the need to have a website that works well for mobile is no longer an option for law firms; it’s a necessity. If you have considered making your site “mobile-friendly”, you’ve likely encountered two different options for doing so: a mobile website or responsive design. Below we explore the differences between these two options so you can make the best decision when it comes to marketing your firm on the web.

Responsive Design
With a responsive website design, you have just a single website that automatically adjusts according to a device’s screen size. The web server doesn’t do the work of adjusting the site; instead, the device is charged with optimizing the size of the site to fit the screen of the visitor.

Criticisms of Responsive Design
Although many web developers have championed responsive design as an ideal solution to meet the growing demands of mobile users, it’s not without some serious flaws. Since responsive sites are viewed on both the big screens of PCs and the three inch screens of smart phones, many components may not work very well on all devices. Take, for example, images. To accommodate a PC, images used for key components like the background or header graphic might be quite large. While a responsive design might display these large images in a compact format for mobile devices, they will still take a longer time to load, frustrating visitors and causing them to exit before the site has even loaded.

It’s also important to remember that your firm’s website isn’t just a series of pages with photos and content. In most cases, it’s a lead generation tool with contact forms and interactive features. Far too often with responsive sites, the graphics may fit on a mobile screen but the functionality that a mobile user expects (one touch calling and GEO location APIs to get instant directions from their current location, for example) are missing. This too leads to a less than ideal visitor experience for users coming to your site from a smart phone or tablet.

A Dedicated Mobile Website
A dedicated mobile website is essentially a copy of your website that has been optimized exclusively for the mobile experience. This means smaller graphics, quick touch contact buttons and reduced content for quick reading on the go. With a mobile site, the website server does the work to deliver the optimized page.

Criticisms of Mobile Websites
One of the main criticisms of mobile sites is that the use of a mobile website, alongside your main firm’s website, requires two different domain names (You will often find a mobile site has a domain name beginning with an “m”. For example, m.mywebsiteurl.com). And since a mobile site is technically a second website for your law firm, it does require separate maintenance and upkeep to ensure that both the main site and mobile site contain the most up to date information.

At Amicus Creative Media, we’ve built a sophisticated system that addresses these concerns making a mobile website a great, and cost effective, solution for law firms. Our state of the art platform doesn’t require the use of a second domain name and whenever a firm makes changes to its website through our industry-leading Site Manager, the updates are reflected both on the main site and the mobile site saving firms time while still delivering the optimal viewing experience for mobile users.

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