First, a little backstory. I’ve been on CareerBuilder’s mobile development team for the past 9 months. I wrote our official Android app, which was a great experience. I also did a bit of iOS programming… which I’m less fond of. Regardless, I’ve realized that my true passion remains with web development. And so I naturally became “the mobile website guy”. I embraced this niche and life was good.
And then responsive web design came along.
If you haven’t heard of it, you really should check it out. It’s kind of a big deal. The basic concept is that your pages should be fluid, flexible, and “responsive” to whatever screen space is available. Done properly, this means you’ll never have to create duplicate versions of the same page, because each page will look great on any device.
A couple weeks ago, the mobile team had a meeting with some of our customer service people to review our mobile products. When it came my turn to go over the mobile website, one guy in the room eagerly stated that he never uses the mobile site. “Why would I use the limited mobile site when I can just scroll to the bottom, click the view full site link, and see everything?”
I was just confused. Why would anyone prefer a huge unwieldy page on a tiny mobile screen? Isn’t it worth giving up all that extra stuff for a better mobile experience? Since then, I’ve realized that my question is flawed. It’s not a matter of features vs. mobility. Our users wants both. The real question is, how can we reasonably offer all/most features to our mobile users?
Which brings me to one of the huge perks of responsive web design: you are no longer playing an unsustainable game of catch up with your mobile audience. You are no longer creating a desktop website, and then asking what features should be copied to the mobile site, and when you have time to do it. Instead, you create one set of responsive pages. Everyone gets all features, responsive design keeps things looking nice on big and small screens, and everyone is happy.
Of course, responsive isn’t a magic bullet that everyone should use. For some businesses, it still makes sense to have separately developed mobile pages. Us developers at CareerBuilder, however, have decided to go the responsive route.
So if we’re taking the responsive approach, and no longer making mobile-only pages, then why am I still on the mobile team? Well, I’m not.
Friday was my last day on the mobile team. Today I start on the job seeker development team, which is basically the team that does development for our public-facing website. I’ll be doing my best to lead the responsive approach on this team, which will still benefit our mobile users.