Does my mobile WCM need apps or a responsive site?

Responsive design can help a website display properly on a wide range of devices, but sometimes mobile apps are better suited to business needs.

A responsive site provides a publish-once option for maintaining a company website for multiple devices, but there are situations in which specialized mobile apps are a better choice. What factors should companies consider when choosing an approach to mobile-friendly Web content management (WCM) design?

Responsive design makes sense when you are a publisher and you want to create the same information and the same experience on many different devices.

It's a distribution solution and, as a publisher, you can be fairly assured that your readers are getting a consistent experience with all of the same information. It's one-and-done. As editor or publisher, you manage the content centrally -- you publish things out and the responsive design knows all about the presentation layer of what your consumers are going to look at.

If you just want to get the same information out every place, then it's publishing things out on a webpage or through a responsive design template.

But as the mobile revolution continues, companies need to do more than just publish things out, and that's where Mobile apps might come in because they allow for more interactivity. As users, we're making the transition from reading things on our smartphones to using our smartphones for work. This crosses a divide -- we're going from a publishing environment to an application environment. We are trying to create a more interactive, useful experience on our devices.

A responsive site alone doesn't lead to an interactive user experience. Rather, you have to start thinking, "What are the applications, what are the commands, what are the actions that I can build into my mobile experience?" As a designer or manager of a mobile site, think about how you can create a search experience for your site -- what would that look like and what are the bits of technology underneath it? That becomes a very powerful way forward.

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