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Website Upgradation: Creating a compelling multi-channel experience for your customer

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With the boom in smartphones, tablets and an ever increasing choice of devices  to access information and content, consumers expect that the websites they visit, would by default be enabled on the Android, Blackberry or iOS device they are using. In the event of pages getting truncated or the experience not seamless, the disgruntled customer is born.

So, if you have an existing website and are now looking at enabling the content for mobile/tablet devices, you have the following options with you:

  • Upgrading your existing website to a Responsive Website or , 
  • Create a separate Mobile website for access from small screen devices 
  • There is even the Mobile application answer but that is not exactly a solution to your website browsing experience. Besides, apps suffer from other problems - the problem of discovery from App stores, the need for pushing updates that need to be manually applied by your consumers, security issues, etc...which is why they are not a popular solution
A Responsive Website is a website that is developed in such a manner that it fluidly detects and adapts to the screen width of the device being used. Using a single code base, it offers a Responsive and optimal viewing experience on any device. However, since this code base needs to cater to the experience on different devices, this will involve a re-think on the existing design to arrive at a unified approach. Development and testing will need to consider the complexity of cross browser and cross device compatibility. A Mobile website is a new website that is created specifically for use on mobile devices, such as 'm.facebook.com' for Facebook. 

From a maintainability and support perspective, as well as to ensure better visibility in search engines, the ideal solution would be to build a single Responsive website for your business. The initial investment in development is well worth the returns in terms of increased conversion rates and brand loyalty.

However, from our experience, we see that some of our clients face challenges in upgrading their existing website to a Responsive design because of time or budget constraints. If you have similar constraints, following are some alternative approaches you can consider for enabling a multi-channel experience:

  1. If time is a critical factor and you are looking at a quick GTM (go to market) solution, consider a temporary solution of creating a simple new Mobile website with the most important 50-100 odd links while developing the strategy for your Responsive Website. This ensures that you have catered for the mobile traffic to your website for business continuity. This approach is more relevant for a B2C or e-commerce scenario where giving your business the multi-channel edge fast is of essence. When designing your Responsive website, start with a Mobile-First approach to avoid complex, cluttered screens and ensure that content is planned for mobile/tablet usage. For static content on your website, Responsive design works well; for parts that are interaction heavy such as the shopping cart/checkout workflows in the case of e-commerce websites, content templates can be created for specific & predetermined device platforms. 
  2. In case of serious budget limitations, you can approach the solution to this problem by extending your existing website incrementally and in small steps for a multi-device experience using the Adaptive approach but this involves extensive conditional coding & scripting on the same code base (for predetermined devices) and in my opinion, may not be the best solution from a long term, maintainability perspective.
There are several examples of companies who have gone for Responsive websites and gained from the 'wow' impact - get inspired and join the club!

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