Style Sheets v. Mobile Sites

Style Sheets > Mobile Sites > Recommendations

There is a large debate raging over whether companies and organizations should be investing in mobile websites/web apps or native mobile apps. However, there is relatively little discussion about the pros and cons of using style sheets vs. dedicated mobile sites in the development of mobile web content.

When you get right down to it, this is really a discussion about style vs. structure. Does the mobile environment prompt a completely different structure than the desktop environment or simply a unique styling? Might there be a way to meet in the middle?

Style Sheets — The Pros

As with the use of style sheets in general, one of the biggest advantages is reduced maintenance. If I change the text of my welcome page, I would only need to change the HTML markup in a single document and the change would be populated to the regular version of my site as well as the mobile-friendly version.

Style Sheets — The Cons

One of the drawbacks has already been discussed: the uneven support for and handling of CSS media types and media queries. This issue can make it difficult to predict and control how a site will be rendered on the wide variety of mobile devices available. Another downside is that you are likely to spend a lot of time undoing or working around the style and/or structure that is already in place for the regular version of your site. You are forced to find a structural compromise between desktop and mobile environments while adapting the stylistic elements to optimize your site for each environment.

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Style Sheets > Mobile Sites > Recommendations

© Julia Canavese 2011