The rise in mobile phone and tablet usage in the last few years has led to a revolution in the way people view websites, and the answer that initially came from the web development community was to set up a mobile website optimized specifically for the handheld and tablet devices of their target users. However, that thinking has been changing. Responsive websites have become the latest rage. Responsive web design is meant to display optimally at a variety of screen widths, and render appropriately across the wide variety of screen sizes out there, whether on the desktop, a tablet or on a smart phone.
So were the mobile sites a waste of time? Not really… Mobile only web development has done a great job of raising the conversion rates and reducing the bounce rate of mobile visitors by providing an interface that renders correctly on some, or even most, mobile devices. They’re far from the perfect solution, however for the following reasons.
Responsive Design VS Mobile Sites:
1. Mobile only websites are made to the perfect specifications of a few or only a single device.
The idea for mobile only website creation was a real need when the mobile revolution was first taking hold, back before smart phones were capable of reading HTML5 and had full blown browsers for viewing the web were commonplace. A responsively developed website will allocate the right design properties for the screen size available without the need for extra coding or the use of yet another template and works flawlessly across any device size or browser type popular on the market today. This is perhaps the best reason to consider a responsive website over a mobile version of your site.
2. Using a mobile only website instead of a responsive site framework will have to do double duty, on everything.
Mobile sites are considered a whole nother site by search engines, and you have to create every mobile page distinctly from the regular web version. Everything from your SEO strategy to your use of URLs in sharing content will become twice as complex and require not only the extra time and manpower to keep in line, but it will also dilute any marketing and optimization efforts you may take between the various versions of your site. In the best case examples, complicated redirects will ensure that mobile users are automatically redirected to the mobile version of the page they are looking for, but this is very rarely set up flawlessly. Do things once and do them right the first time.
3. It is the Industry standard.
Google always encourages the industry standard. The search engine giant recently gave its recommendations for mobile distribution of content on the Internet, and the results are in: Responsive is preferred over mobile-only content delivered alongside main content delivery. Google notes that responsive design offers:
- A single URL for your content that allows Google’s algorithm the ability to assign their indexing properties to one URL.
- No need to implement redirections based upon what user-agent the site visitor is using. This leads to better user experience on the site.
- It reduces the resources necessary for Google to crawl your site content. Thus providing an improvement in crawling efficiency that allows Google to find fresh new content on your site.
With these factors in mind, it’s a pretty easy decision for Thrive when a client asks which is better. Mobile sites still have their place, and we will (on the rare occasion) recommend a mobile site, but typically this is due to limitations beyond our control, and the preference is almost always to go responsive. Why not contact us to find out more about ensuring your site is mobile friendly and well optimized?