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I want to know what would be the best way to present my site to users when they are not using desktop computers (and they are using mobile phones, smartphones or tablets)? I am currently working on a website and I am trying to look for the best way to handle this problem

I have 2 options:

  1. Redirect all the users (others than users using a desktop based browser) based on a user-agent filter to a mobile version of the site and change the url to m.example.com

  2. Keep the url (like example.com) and just change the template with the mobile optimised one

I also want to know how search engines would view this change.

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If we've answered your question, you can select the best solution so that if anyone comes across the same problem in the future, they know the course of action. –  dnbrv Feb 7 '12 at 18:45
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

When it comes to mobile versions, UX is concerned primarily with 2 things:

  1. That content and layout are appropriate for the screen size;
  2. And that the site loads quickly (most responsive layouts load all graphics full-sized but display them as small).

A sub-domain redirect serving mobile-only version will take care of loading speed but introduces a business issue: SEO impact (search engines treat sub-domains as separate sites & index them accordingly). So you need to decide whether you're a better web-coder than server & SEO shaman. If you can code better, here're a few ways you can fix the development and loading speed issues:

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Part of responsive design's approach is to load a smaller version of the images based on media type or download speed. So, if the server detects a smaller device or slow network, it would send the appropriate sized files. –  tajmo Jan 30 '12 at 22:29
    
@tajmo: That's the latest trend, which requires additional server-side and/or JS coding. The original responsive designs only resized the image to fit the viewport based on media queries. –  dnbrv Jan 30 '12 at 22:48
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I have found it is always best to keep your base URL and make your designs responsive to your users. Whether that be a different template for a 22" widescreen all the way down to a different template for iPhones etc.

See how http://www.smashingmagazine.com has redesigned their site with responsive templates.

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Thank you for the answer, i currently browse using my android powered phone... I saw sm template... also saw other sites using responsive templates... the problem is i don't have the skils and also the time for this... for me would be much easier those two variants –  m3tsys Jan 26 '12 at 21:37
    
Having a desktop view and a mobile view is a good first step and one that I am actively going through at my work as well, as a responsive layout isn't yet what our users are asking for. –  James Wilkinson Jan 26 '12 at 21:49
    
That is what I was thinking as well.. from your first answer I understand you vote for keeping the url and just change the template, right? –  m3tsys Jan 26 '12 at 21:55
    
That is correct. If you change the URL and someone shares the link from their smartphone to someone who is on a desktop they end up seeing a mobile version. –  James Wilkinson Jan 30 '12 at 19:52
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I would do the mobile optimized template with the standard URL. Using the CSS @media tags, you can completely restyle a site based on the users device without it taking up too much time or being too complicated. You can basically leave your site non-mobile optimized and just hide or restyle things to make it mobile optimized when the user is on a cell phone... You can read more about it here http://css-tricks.com/css-media-queries/

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And keep large images in layout aka only resize them? I dislike this approach as it let me load huge amount of data I even not need or get displayed. And besides that, personally, I prefer to see instantly in a URL if I access a mobile or desktop site. –  FrankL Jan 27 '12 at 8:20
    
Mobile images won't be loaded onto the desktop version and large image won't be loaded onto the mobile version. That's just the way CSS works. And I think it's better that when you're the owner, just make things work. The users don't have to understand it just works. –  henryaaron Jan 27 '12 at 14:54
    
Oh and you don't have to resize them, make new files. Only the ones that win te CSS conflict will be losded –  henryaaron Jan 27 '12 at 14:54
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