Responsive Hybrid sites are the answer to delivering an optimum site experience to your customers.
Responsive Hybrid websites deliver the best of both worlds.
If you were to add up all the different web-enabled devices out there, and multiply that number by all the different browsers, screen sizes and resolution possibilities, you’d end up with… well… a LOT of different scenarios in which a viewer could potentially view your website. And all of these variables make it more and more difficult to create a website that effectively addresses them without creating an onslaught of new challenges. Can one web website really ever fit all?
In the early stages of this conundrum, developers began pushing mobile apps built in the native OS of handheld devices. But the apps were expensive, hard for users to find, harder to manage and completely disconnected from the core website. They did little to address the needs of the average viewer who landed on the site from a mobile or touch-screen browser.
Other developers began deploying duplicate mobile-friendly versions of their website, but these were only able to accommodate a few of the possible variations. They also introduced some serious SEO concerns by creating what Google sees as duplicate content.
Today, everyone is talking about responsive websites, and we’re more than willing to admit that responsive and adaptive technology goes a long way in helping to provide users with a better web experience. However, a responsive site is still limited by its need to accommodate everything. This one-site-adapts-to-fit-all approach can create issues with navigation design and usability, image resizing, site performance/speed and general code complexity. A website optimized for desktop viewing with 2000+ pixels of screen width and clickable navigation SHOULD be pretty different than one optimized for 320 pixels of screen resolution on a touch-screen phone. They simply do not function the same way, and responsive technology cannot always accommodate this difference in an efficient or effective manner.
So what’s a forward thinking, budget-conscious company to do?
Adapt, of course. By combining the best elements of several of these solutions, Responsive Hybrid sites do a better job of assessing the needs of each visitor and deliver a site experience that more precisely matches them. Even better — it can all be done without creating a mess of your code or your development budget.
What is a Responsive Hybrid website?
A Responsive Hybrid website typically includes several different device specific master pages or frameworks, each of which can, in turn, incorporate multiple responsive or adaptive states.
When a visitor hits the site, the web server immediately assesses several critical factors – typically screen resolution, physical width and touch/click functionality needs. The server then identifies the correct framework based on this specific combination of factors, and flows content into the appropriate page. There can be any number of frameworks, allowing for different types of navigation, banner images and more, but 2 will often suffice — one large clickable version, and one small touchable version. This allows the developer to accommodate various functionality requirements without building every possible combination into each and every page.
Once the best framework is determined, a hybrid site can then use responsive content modifications to tweak and customize the layout at a more detailed level. Desktop frameworks might include a fluid grid that accommodates both laptop and larger monitor sizes, while mobile frameworks might include horizontal and vertical layouts that change as the phone is rotated.
No matter how many frameworks, and how much responsive content is incorporated, an effective hybrid site all rolls up into a single seamless delivery with no duplicate content or redundant URLs. A page is a page is a page in a hybrid site — www.example.com/about will always be www.example.com/about, regardless of the device it’s opened on. It simply changes its skin based on the device.
No matter how you decide to address your mobile viewers’ needs, make sure you DO address them.
With mobile users approaching 50% of total web traffic this year, no one can argue that it’s not important to address these various viewing needs, and to put your best foot forward for whatever device your viewer is using. Just imagine the cost of losing that mobile traffic to a competitor who took them into consideration!
To learn more about responsive web design, check out the following articles: What is Responsive Web Design? and Is a Responsive Hybrid Site Right for Your Business
(Image credit: Jeremy Keith)