New Concept coming soon

As Web designers and developers, we see the value in supporting mobile devices every day. We’re well-versed in tactics and techniques for adapting our work to mobile. Our challenge is to be equally well-versed in selling our clients on that value as being something in which they need to invest precious budget dollars.

I’ve been describing what I call the “mobile imperative” for a few years now when talking to clients oradvocating support for mobile devices in Web design projects. The mobile user experience is not an add-on. It’s now a major part of the Web as we know it, and our clients’ content and tools will appear on an increasing number of devices, screens and contexts.

As the distinction between the Web on desktop and mobile continues to blur, supporting mobile is increasingly something we do as part of every website design or build. It should become second nature to us, but there are still additional costs: design enhancements at multiple breakpoints, testing across a wide gamut of devices, defining and maintaining media queries with associated CSS or JavaScript, perhaps even a distinct mobile-oriented website. To those who are less informed, these may be seen as unnecessary enhancements. The traditional websites that they’ve been acquainted with for the past 20 years may be all that they interact with or deem necessary.

Some clients come to us requesting mobile support. They know they need it; they know its value. They come with reasonable budgets in hand for a traditional website, but additional funds to support the extra effort that mobile requires didn’t make it into this year’s marketing allotment, and their scope checklist has already been pared down. We don’t want to turn them away, but we have an obligation to ourselves and to our business to bill all of our clients on the same terms.

Our responsibility as Web professionals is to educate and inform our clients, to impart upon them the value and necessity of supporting mobile and, for those worthwhile clients and projects we don’t wish to turn away, to craft a solution that can achieve their goals within a realistic budget.

Even the simplest of websites don’t conform to a one-size-fits-all solution. We’re trying to deliver a website to our clients that will hold up for a few years’ time, that should work on today’s devices and those we haven’t yet seen.

Any recommendation we make to our clients, whether it be to have a responsive website, to have separate mobile and desktop websites, or not to worry about mobile at all, should be based on an understanding of our client’s needs. More often than not, supposedly fixed variables such as budget, scope and timeline can and do change. Must-haves become secondary goals in light of other considerations. The project that the client brings to you is not necessarily the project that the client actually needs.

Listen to your client’s needs and constraints, and really seek to understand the nature of their business and their situation. This should help shape your recommendation. If you listen carefully, you should also be able to determine how best to make the case for incorporating mobile support into their website project.

My experience is that clients typically come with something in hand that they’re hoping to achieve, or they exhibit distinct values that we can speak to. I’m going to look at how to make the case for mobile to clients who fall into one of four likely categories: data-driven, competitor-driven, cost-driven and socially conscious.

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