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I'm building a script that redirects visitors with mobile devices to mobile version of the website. I was wondering, what is the best practice regarding whether to ask if the user wants to be redirected or redirecting without asking?

Naturally there will be link to desktop version on the mobile site and vice versa.

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Here's a very relevant XKCD strip that's worth considering. (There's always a relevant XKCD). –  JonW Sep 6 '12 at 6:23
    
I want to understand why don't you create complete mobile (or with enough content )copy of your desktop site and let user access it when they are using it through mobile. –  Hem Oct 19 '12 at 4:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This really depends on how good your mobile solution is. If the advantages outweigh the the disadvantages of using your desktop site on a mobile device for most people you should redirect. But there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always redirect to the page the user requested, never redirect all mobile traffic to your homepage
  • Do not redirect if the content the user tried to access doesn't exist on the mobile web page
  • Make it easy to switch back to the desktop version (and vice versa)
  • Save the the user's preference: If he switches to the desktop version, don't redirect him to the mobile site the next time he visits

Some people would argue that there is no need for redirection at all, that the only good approach is a responsive design. And I think that's true for most kind of websites, especially for sites that are all about content consumption (news sites, 99% of corporate websites etc.). For web applications and task oriented websites a dedicated mobile solution can make sense though.

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+1 also for "save the user's preference". Moreover, with usage statistics server can more accurately guess which version to present. –  Bartosz Rakowski Sep 6 '12 at 7:40

Serve the version of the page that is appropriate for the device that is requesting it.

Whether you are achieving this through a responsive design or a redirect to a separate mobile site, serve the version that is optimized for the viewing platform.

I would not first prompt the user to make a choice before loading the content.

When you are on a responsive site, it does not prompt the user, so why should a mobile redirect?

That said, always give the option for the user to switch to the desktop version, and try to respect that preference as best you can. Make the toggle easy to access (i.e. not in tiny text at the very bottom of the page).

Lastly, I would definitely look at analytics over time to see if particular areas of your site have a higher rate of users "downgrading" from mobile to desktop. That may indicate a problem with a particular type of content/template.

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