Mobile First and the Debate about MWD (Mobile Web Design) vs. RWD (Responsive Web Design)

By Elisa Rivero

My ears have been ringing these days from dedicated mobile platform providers trying to cling-on to the last decade and disprove the power of Responsive Web Design for mobile.  There is a lot out there on designing from a “mobile first” methodology with RWD, but generally speaking we are believers that RWD is generally better for this decade now as a process for MWD.    I like to use  the case of a “master and the sword”…. Right now many of the web designers creating mobile views using RWD have not had the years of experience in mobile to understand all of the issues around UI/UX design, so they are not masters of this sword yet.   Therefore they can end-up with an inferior mobile-view design.   However, over time, regular interactive designers that also focus on mobile with  the needs of their clients in mind, will have the ability to create a great mobile view with RWD will definitely become the norm.   Mobile views, Tablet views and Desktop views are different because of the context with which users activate them.  However, in all cases one of the best ways to reach those views is via Search or Social link clicking.   Without a RWD site, getting 1-to-1 parity is a challenge for the mobile web design platform unless it has some kind of screen optimizer feature included.  This can be costly and can leave the mobile view with limited amount of content.  Therefore, when we did an analysis of the different formats, this is what we found.

If you understand the strategy and the content you want to deliver using Responsive Web Design, it will give 2.3 points better in this comparison.

I have a great case-in-point.  This last weekend I was traveling to Kentucky for a mobile conference called MobileX.  On Saturday my flight back to NYC was at 3:15 in the afternoon.   The hosts of the MobileX conference wanted to take us to Keeneland to see the Horse races.  It was amazing.  At 1:30pm I decided I wanted to stay longer and wanted to change my Delta flight ticket.   I went to Delta mobile site built by Usablenet  and tried to find the information.    I just could not find it for the life of me.  The mobile site looked great, but it did not have the content I needed at that exact time ( Do not get me wrong, Usable net did a great job at presenting the content, but this is more like an App then Website).   Simultaneously, one of my colleagues did a search on Google on their iPhone  to find “change ticket with Delta”…… You know what happened?  It took her to the main website with the information.    She did a  drag and squeeze and finally found the information in  about 30 seconds of looking.   So there you have it.   The mobile website might had been beautifully designed and they spent a lot of time trying to get the right information there, but it was not search sensitive……  By just searching for the information on Google and getting to the main website with all of the content is the right usage case.  If the Delta site would have been designed using RWD, it would had been even better as the page would had been formated perfectly.

From 2000~2010, the dedicated mobile web design companies made there case to have product that made the web more friendly. But since 2007 with the growth of the iPhone and Android devices that have the same browser as the desktop in them with the  main difference in screen size and bandwidth ( and of course Flash enabled).  Responsive Web Design is the way to go we feel.

We are hosting an event on April 24th with the Responsive Web Design meet-up in NYC about this topic.  Please join us to discuss and debate this topic.

We are going to have a debate over the strategies of Barak Obama = Responsive Web Design versus  Mitt Romney = Mobile Web Design

Brad Frost from BradFrostWeb  one of the mobile guru’s in the responsive web design world will come and speak about this topic!   He is an amazing speaker.   Register here  for a discount of 80% off  ( use code: RESPONSIVEADS). Alternatively, you can join the meet-up group and get the discount as well….

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