As more consumers gravitate towards mobile devices, desktop screen sizes can no longer be the only design standard for website visitors. Sales in PCs are drastically set to decline with the increase in tablet and mobile device popularity. Planning for this now ensures that we are looking out for the best interests of our clients in the near future.
When a reliable source such as Gartner Research predicts that “mobile phones will overtake desktops as the most common Web access device worldwide by 2013”, it means taking action to update our standards for web design and development to anticipate the needs of our clients. However, deciding to create a website that works on mobile devices is not as simple as you think. There are several different ways to create a mobile website.
Responsive Web Design or Separate Mobile Website?
Google’s main priority is to providing quality and relevant content to their users. To provide the best user experience, they reward sites that offer valuable content, are intuitive and easy to use and follow best practices for SEO and coding. Google recommends using a responsive website instead of a separate dedicated mobile page because it is an in-built feature that is then native to that website. Following Google recommendations will help improve your website relevance for SEO purposes.
That said, what then is the difference between dedicated mobile websites and responsive websites?
- Responsive web design – This is where the code of the website causes the content to resize to fit the screen of a mobile phone or tablet. This is hard coded into the website itself.
- Dedicated Mobile Websites – A dedicated mobile site is one that is set on a separate URL, often with the subdomain ‘m’ or ‘mobile’. The code on the website registers a mobile device and redirects your browser to the dedicated page.
- Third-Party Service – One of the easiest ways to create this is through a third party service such as Duda Mobile, which offers traffic analytics and data. There are free (with ads) and paid versions of this and many designs are available through a pre-built template. This gives control of your website to a third party application though.
- Integrated Redirect – This redirect is hard coded directly into your site so that the browser redirect leads to a page that your designer has built specifically for you. You have no need to worry about ads and are able to maintain the mobile page internally.
When a consumer searches using a mobile device that has a display meant for a dedicated URL, (content built for larger screen sizes) then some of the content / graphics are lost, possibly even distorted. A responsive website, on the other hand, uses one URL and the same HTML, for all types of devices and therefore the content or graphics, can be viewed without any distortion or loss of content. If one of driving factors of your web design is based on the SEO, then having a responsive website would be optimal.
Responsive Websites Improve Google Search Engine Optimization
How does this help place your website on top of the Search Engine Optimization process? Responsive web design enables Google to efficiently crawl and index your website’s content, preserving the “canonical” order of a website thereby simplifying the sharing of content between all types of devices.
Some Pros of Responsive Websites:
User experience is an important criterion of consumers’ expectations, especially when browsing a website to get quick and clear results. Google values time spent on a site and takes bounce rates into account as well. An easy to view site from a mobile device will ensure that the visitor does not immediately leave the page. Fact: 80% users abandon a website if their user experience is bad.
Web design should address the compatibility of information on different screen sizes and also take into account the platforms and devices for which they are designed.
A one-stop website would mean one version of your content in your Content Management System, as the content / graphics can be shared; this in turn makes your web design more versatile, faster and cheaper to implement.
The Cons of Responsive Websites:
Sharing of website content and imagery between various types of devices would mean slower loading ; this these days is not much of an issue as the connections, browsers and devices are much more modern than they were a year or two ago. Images can also be limited for the mobile sized page.
With your web design being shared between various devices, the design would need to be fluid and therefore that could mean less precision.
Why Use a Dedicated Mobile Website?
- Pro: A dedicated mobile website user experience would mean tailor made content / graphics suited to the consumer’s particular device
- Con: It would mean maintaining two different types of websites which would then increase costs and use of more resources
- Con: Maintaining two websites would require consistently ensuring that your mobile website is in tune with the main website and hence constant planning will be required, as to what goes into the user interface.
Google is now placing a large emphasis on user-experience as a ranking factor with regards to SEO and therefore the real question, do you already have a mobile website? If not, is your website due for an upgrade? Which mobile solution should your business move forward with, responsive web design or a dedicated mobile site? The answer to this question lies within your company’s goals, objectives, and the specific needs of your target audience.
Test your website in our mobile website preview.