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A Responsive Debate: Mobile, App or Web

'What would it take to create a responsive mobile design for our launch?'

“To be or not to be?” That was the question we ran into during our last executive update regarding the mobile experience for our social intranet. Actually, it wasn’t a question as much as it was a statement. “What would it take to create a responsive mobile design for our launch?” I don’t know the answer yet as IT is still scoping capabilities but I can assure you it isn’t as simple as it looks. And this led to another debate about when do you need a responsive mobile experience, a mobile app or the option for full web functionality. It all depends really on what you are trying to accomplish and is also dependent on the platform you are trying to make responsive. Websites aren’t as difficult as it is all flat HTML for the most part but what if you are trying to create a responsive design for a community which is dynamic and is constantly in motion.

I guess I would classify web mobile solutions as the following.

1.) Responsive – which is intelligent enough to respond to the device you are using to view the website and it will adjust the design (or respond) to the size of the screen resolution more or less. So, if you turn your phone or iPad it will respond and expand the design to show more.

2.) Mobile Optimized – Not as intelligent to know when you are changing resolution but created specific for mobile devices so it provides an optimized version vs. the full website version which is difficult to see or use at times on phones. What this includes similar to a responsive design is building templates that react and are surfaced depending on the device and screen resolution.

3.) Mobile App – I am not in favor of developing apps for websites. The above example are more simple to manage and maintain as your website or community for that matter continues to scale and evolve.

We have been building our social intranet on the Jive platform and mobile hasn’t exactly been a strong solution for Jive which they will readily admit. I was at a Jive user group in Boston last week and was the one thing I recommended to the team for an area that needs to be improved. However, Jive has done some nice things with a company called Mobify. They have been able to create a nice compromise  which is not a responsive design as much as what I would refer to as mobile optimized but is functional. They recently rolled this out for Starbucks and looks pretty good on your cell phone. However, this is a pretty simple site and not that difficult to create a mobile optimized solution. If you think about creating a social intranet where there is an extensive navigation of employee resources you can imagine the number of templates you may need to make this truly responsive.

It’s a tough decision and when everyone is focused on delivering an amazing user experience at what point are you willing to put things on hold until that optimal mobile experience is ready. I don’t know the answer to that but hoping to better understand our options, determine what we can release in sprints and get some clarity on a launch date soon.

Filed under: Community Strategy, Mobile Experience, Mobile Marketing, Web Strategy Tagged: creating a responsive mobile design, deciding on responsive vs. web optimized design, Designing Web for Mobile, Jive responsive mobile solutions, Jive Software, Mobify Mobile Solutions, responsive mobile design, Starbucks Mobile Community

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More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com