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Mobile Friendly Websites


Stationery Direct

Administrator
Staff member
#1
As you know Google will be bringing in its mobile friendly search results at the end of this month. Obviously we have had to look into making all our sites mobile friendly and I was a little shocked as to how limited our options are. It seems that almost all sites now look the same, a section of blocks that can easily be scaled down responsively to fit mobile devices.

Most sites seem to now be on Bootstrap or Foundation and even the bespoke coded ones seem to look the same as these anyway. Does anyone else think that the web is going to be a much duller place as a result of this?
 
#2
I read this today too and completely agree. Mobile friendly sites look bloody awful, very samey and, to me, seem more difficult to navigate, even on a phone, because everything is massive and you can only see a small amount of content at once. This, while mobile screens get larger and higher resolution. The first button I look for when presented with a stupid mobile site is the 'desktop version' button. Pinching to zoom and seeing the whole navigation menu is second nature and much better than a menu that diesn't even appear until you click on it. And now Google are dictating that we all have to build sites this way.This is a huge backwards step in website design. I'm cross, if you hadn't realised..
 

bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
#3
A couple of my recent builds,

Shambles Market York : Shambles Market
Applicare Appliance Servicing & Repairs York

Both considered perfectly responsive by google but both in quite different ways. Shambles Market uses simplegrid and is completely fluid (which is a right pain in the arse when it comes to cropping and scaling images) whilst applicare uses a js screen size rule to redirect users to a mobile site. I dont think either of them are boring sites or 'samey' but I would say that.

I dont think the issue is so much with google dictating how sites should work but how developers have interpreted the need for responsiveness within a site.
 
#4
They're not bad. The first example has the massive text I referred to. The second is a pretty classic vertical stacking mobile layout. I personally don't see the need for responsive sites at all. They very rarely improve on the full desktop version, and in most cases are far inferior.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
#5
In a way I hate having to create a website that works on both mobile and desktop. It actually limits you a hell of a lot because they're two completely different formats. I know it makes sense to accommodate all users but I think this is the key problem. Having to hold back on a design or functionality simply because you can't adapt it for a mobile device or screen-size seems like a step back to me.

As you've pointed out, it results in a 'same-old, same-old' approach to sites, and I think most sites are already too similar as it is. Just take a look at something like Awwwards, a lot of the sites featured on there (you pay to be featured I might add) all follow the same cookie-cutter approach to layout. I'm actually planning on selecting some sites somewhat at random, and converting them to simple wireframes to illustrate just how similar they are in layout.

However, I think phones are a great format for reading articles because the narrow width of a screen lends itself perfectly well to the way we read. It allows for focus just on the article, which is fantastic.
 

Corrosive

Well-Known Member
#6
Personally I can't stand sites that are not mobile-friendly now. I do a LOT of phone and tablet surfing (particularly articles whilst my wife is watching something crap on TV). I don't want to pinch and zoom, why the hell should I when it just takes a little extra effort to make a responsive website. Lets not forget why we are here. We communicate content and messages. A website is NOT an ego trip and never should be. Get responsive because Google's gonna smack down non-responsive websites next week...
 

Daniel

New Member
#7
When you're designing it can be great to have a vision for a particular look and feel and sometimes technology such as having that work for a range of screen sizes and devices can feel like it's getting in the way, but at the end of the day it's like Corrosive says, you design to facilitate the delivery of content and messages. Your role as a designer is to make that as smooth and seemless as possible really, for anybody viewing the website.

Standards and frameworks can make a lot of websites samey. But I think visual trends are as much to blame here.
For example the the recent trend of flat design and flat colours.
There's no reason you can't have nice gradients or a radically different look using Bootstrap or other framework - it's just the big banner, flat and bold/simple design, flat icons and light colours etc. are popular at the moment, and a lot of people seem to want to go for that "modern" look.

I think our website looks fairly old school because of the smaller fonts, gradients, lack of big bold icons and so forth - but it could be built on Boostrap fairly easily (and I'm considering that at the moment given these recent changes by Google).

You've also got Wordpress, Drupal and other CMS based sites that work across devices. Again, Wordpress sites can look pretty samey, but they don't have to.

I think yeovalley.co.uk is a good example.
Works on most devices it seems, runs on Wordpress, and looks modern but pretty different with the scrapbook aesthetic.
It arguably looks a bit old school I guess.

Not as modern/lightweight or flash as a good Bootstrap site, but I guess that's the point, you can have quite a different look but still have a responsive website. It maybe just takes a bit more work - or the desire in the first place.

What do you guys think?
 
#8
The trouble is you are very restricted on the space for mobiles and keeping the site usable.

I stay away from Bootstrap and do everything bespoke and independently for each web design we build.
 

Corrosive

Well-Known Member
#9
I stay away from Bootstrap and do everything bespoke and independently for each web design we build.
We do too. I find frameworks are more trouble than they are worth and often cause way too much code bloat. We start with a basic template agreed between the team here and build from scratch.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
#11
I've looked at bootstrap once and found it was complete overkill.
I was working with a studio who were developing something using Foundation. Turns out that Foundation was actually a complete nightmare to implement certain things that the project needed. It was intended to speed up the early stage of development but clearly didn't.
 

Corrosive

Well-Known Member
#12
I was working with a studio who were developing something using Foundation. Turns out that Foundation was actually a complete nightmare to implement certain things that the project needed. It was intended to speed up the early stage of development but clearly didn't.
Yeah, tried Foundation too. Can't find any framework where the site wouldn't be better started from scratch.
 

bigdave

Moderator
Staff member
#13
I tend to start from scratch with each project but have found myself re-using certain elements across so many projects I'm considering developing my own basic framework.... Maybe I could call it 'Big Dave's Strap-On' :icon_biggrin:
 

Corrosive

Well-Known Member
#16
How are you guys doing it from scratch? Are you using media queries and your own responsive code?
Yeah, just because each website is different we start with a basic HTML page with some stuff we use all the time but nothing in the body tags and then build on top of that. We always choose our own breakpoints based on the layout and not on devices.