Is Your Website Ready for the New Year?

So by now Christmas has come and gone, the boxes and wrapping paper have made their way to the garbage can and everyone is fully invested in making 2012 the “best year ever.” With the New Year, new challenges await. In the midst of all your planning to meet the New Year’s challenges it’s quite possible you may overlook one huge, hidden ticking time bomb – your website.

Who doesn’t own or know someone who owns an iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, Android phone, Netbook … the list seems endless. And while these devices make our life more convenient they can present a real problem for your customers/readers/fans who will visit your website on their shinny new devices only to discover your site isn’t ready for them.

What are you to do?

Talk to anyone involved with digital media today and you will hear words like; “Device Agnostic”, “Browser Independent”, “html5”, “CSS3” and “Mobile Ready” just to list a few. The list is long and the meanings behind each of these is the definition of “subjective.”

The past strategy most people used was to build a site that worked on the major desktop browsers then either deploy a mobile version for each device that contained the same site content minus the graphics and colors and other pretty/cool items. Or others choose to pay for a custom app for each of the mobile OS platforms that would render their site’s content correctly for each device.

And there in lies the challenge – next Christmas there will be another round of new devices that will require new apps and new redesigns.

One of the ways that Web Designers are trying to deal with this inevitable challenge is to create a website that isn’t built for the specific type of device the user will be using, but rather design the site to respond to the device and screen that any given user may be using – all without compromising the look, feel or functionality of the site. Like many things in life it’s something old that is in vogue again.

And in 2012 the new/old idea for web design is Responsive Web Sites. The concept is rather simple and actually very effective. The page you are currently reading is build on this concept. If you re-size your desktop browser window or change the orientation of your handheld, you will notice how the site responds.  The images, text and structure automatically scale and align to ensure the site renders properly.

While there are several other, very worthy alternatives to this method of web design, I’m particularly supportive of this method because of it’s simplicity, ease of implementation, low maintenance and most importantly it’s ability to accommodate any new device with a few additions to the site’s stylesheet. Also, it’s simple and quick to retrofit most existing websites.

There are several great articles available that go into greater detail and provide resources to allow you to build or retrofit a site based on the Responsive design.

If you are interested and not sure what to do next, drop me a line – I’d be happy to visit with  you about your needs and develop a plan to keep your site updated and ready for whatever challenges await.

And may 2012 be your best year ever.