Sure, I can share a bit more detail. Our platform is called Hoop.la community. Back when we were offering an iPhone app (about 4 yrs ago), there was a strong movement in the marketplace for “vanity apps.” Over the course of a couple of years, with operating systems, devices, and mobile adoption exploding, we found ourselves having to deal with the app approval process much too frequently to be effective. In order to provide each customer with a bespoke app for their community, we would need to have an entire team devoted to both keeping the mobile apps up-to-date with the SaaS application and staying current with operating system and device changes. Not a good use of our resources.
Key considerations (lessons learned) for building an app:
- Not everyone wants to download another app (ie, app fatigue)
- You have to get re-approved in the Apple store every time you do an update, and that process can be unpredictable
- Every time Apple, Android, or anyone else releases an update, you have to make sure you’re not broken
That brought about a decision to shift to a more mobile-friendly interface. We rolled out an update that detected members coming from a mobile device, and then served up a mobile interface by default. It was basically a stripped down version of the application, faster and easier to use on mobile devices. It allowed members to toggle over to the full interface if they wished.
Key considerations for mobile-friendly UI:
- You have to make decisions on what functionality will show up in the mobile version
- Need to think about size of screen…will tablets get the mobile UI or the full desktop UI? At what size does it shift?
- It can be difficult to perform administrative functions from a mobile UI because it’s so stripped down
About a year ago, we decided to go full responsive design for our own site and for Hoop.la itself. We decided that it would improve the user experience, with less loss of functionality, easier admin, and work seamlessly across screen sizes. We systematically went through every single UI in the platform to re-code and update the design. Since this was such a huge change, we also made the decision to go through every single customer community during the beta period and ensure that their customizations won’t break when the responsive release goes live.
Key considerations for responsive design:
- You need to choose your framework…two popular ones are Foundation (which we chose) and Bootstrap.
- You have to make decisions in the UI about what content will show up at each screen size “breaking point,” optimizing what the member will need vs the space available at that size.
- It’s important to review all code, so that HTML old CSS stylesheets, or tables are updated to work in the new framework.
- You’ll probably have a side-effect of more consistency of presentation, and more fine-grained control over styling.
*You will always need to bear in mind the page speed (since you can choose to show or hide certain page elements)
Our own responsive website is here: http://hoop.la (site is currently being updated for the new release, so while it’s responsive, the images and product videos are not fully updated yet—have mercy
If I were managing a community right now, I’d jump straight to responsive, since it eliminates an extra step. With a mobile-friendly approach, you still need to tend to your desktop design and your mobile-friendly version, whereas with a responsive site, it’s one-and-done.
Is anyone else working on responsive design right now?