When the Varius responsive theme was introduced a few months ago, it was envisaged mainly as a template for newer AOM sites. Besides having a mobile functionality for a variety of handheld devices, it was also hoped that it would look different enough in the normal desktop view to make it an exciting change from the standard default layout.
Since then, however, it’s also come to the fore as a handy way to make an existing site mobile-compatible. Usually with an older site, the general look is already be in place (layout, graphics, colours, buttons, etc.). If you wanted to then make it responsive, it was thought to be too much trouble to try and either force an established look onto a new theme, or to have to convert large parts of an existing site to fit into the new template.
But a third way has opened up – create a subdirectory off of the existing main site (like www.mysite.com/mobile) and do a new install of AOM with the Varius theme. You would then create the same categories as the main site, reusing the same colours, buttons and any graphics (resized or edited for mobile) to match the root site. The idea is to mimic the older store as much as possible within the responsive theme. It’s then a simple matter to put some Java code in the root store to redirect any small-resolution screen sizes (say under 800 pixels) to the mobile subdirectory. Visitors may not even know they’ve been redirected.
The satellite store will match the basic look of your older main site, but allow you to pursue a whole new customer demographic. And that could make all the difference. There may be a corresponding article in the AOM Talk blog in the near future that goes into more detail about this process.