As the mobile market explodes exponentially, one question passes through nearly every marketer’s head at some point: Should you build a mobile website?
Unfortunately, many took a premature leap of faith onto the most popular bandwagon: building a separate website optimized for mobile. After all, people don’t use mobile devices like desktop computers, therefore, you should build a website just for the unique mobile experience, right? Wrong. Here’s why:
Top 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Build a Mobile Website:
- Increased Cost/Maintenance: A mobile-specific website results in a whole new body of content, programming, SEO and more to manage. (Then consider this; do you keep creating sites for each new device introduced? Good luck with that!)
- Diluted SEO Authority: With separate URLS, one for desktop and one for mobile, your SEO authority quickly becomes diluted.
- Frustrating User Experience: When users on mobile devices share links from your mobile site with desktop users, the desktop user sees the small screen layout, tiny images and limited content that is optimized for the mobile experience.
Just to be clear, these are the reasons why not to have a separate site for mobile, NOT reasons why you shouldn’t pursue the amazing opportunity that mobile presents. It won’t be long before most users access the web via one of the many mobile device platforms, instead of a desktop. So how do we propose you start your mobile marketing efforts without a mobile website?
It’s simple, really: (re)design your main website using responsive web design.
What Is Responsive Design?
At its core, responsive web design is, well, web design that responds. It involves the creation of a single website that automatically adjusts to the user’s needs and the device they are using. The best part is, responsive web design covers almost the entire spectrum of displays, from 40lb beige CTR monitors to whatever device Apple or Google dream up next.
If you need to see it to believe it, check out our favorite responsive web design example (our website). Go ahead and adjust the browser, pull it up on your iPad, iPhone, laptop, Google TV and Portable Gaming Device. Go crazy. See how it responds. If you want to revert back to the desktop version, click the link at the bottom to see how users can still get the fully caffeinated experience.
But why is responsive design so appealing to web designers, marketing strategists and CEOs alike? Think about it: Only One website to build. One body of content to manage. One cohesive online brand experience, regardless of what device they’re using. The days of building separate sites for a particular device are over.
PROS/CONS of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design has a surprising amount of positives, both direct and indirect. From a designer’s point-of-view, it offers predictability and a huge reduction in workload. You only have one set of content to manage and one brand experience to create, with less time spent fixing a table that isn’t showing up right on your boss’ Android. And don’t worry, there are plenty of benefits for non-designers as well.
PROS of Responsive Web Design:
- Less Maintenance: It is much easier to add and manage layouts for new devices than it would be to create and manage separate sites that are optimized for various devices.
- Search Engine Optimization: SEO authority will not become diluted as all links and bookmarks point to one URL.
- Social Media / Sharing: If a user shares the site, the recipient will always get a similar experience in the most optimal view.
- Better User Experience: Responsive design does not imply plug-and-play. Inherent in this design approach, is deliberate consideration for multiple user experiences, which in the right hands will be thoughtfully designed to maximize the user’s experience on each targeted device.
- Conversion Optimization: Your conversion goals are balanced effectively based on varying user intent and within the constraints of each specific layout to ensure optimal conversion.
- Web Analytics / Tracking: Performance tracking is centralized, making conversion attribution and segmentation by marketing channel much easier to manage.
CONS of Responsive Web Design:
- Technical Difficulty: Responsive design is a completely new and evolving concept with its own set of rules and techniques.
- Performance: By default, responsive doesn’t mean that performance will be improved for mobile but with additional work this is doable.
- Implementation: Production time can be extended as there are more kinks to work out than usual.
- Limited Resources: Resources that provide implementation guidance are still fairly limited.
As with any new method, responsive web design comes with its own set of hurdles to jump over. For example, familiarizing yourself with a new set of responsive web design techniques. However, the advantages clearly overshadow the disadvantages; which is why we chose responsive for our own site and are in the process of developing it for a number of our clients.
Always Follow “the User”
The internet, and our culture in general, is in the midst of a macro-shift in paradigm. We are changing the way we communicate with each other and how we access information on a daily basis. The only way to keep up with change is by following those who are leading it: the User. If you proactively respond to the needs, wants and expectations of your target audience, how could you go wrong? They are the ones ultimately responsible for your success.
Moral of the Story: Follow the user and adapt to their needs…or build a website that does it for you.
We’d love to hear your take on this new and exciting technology. Feel free to join the discussion by adding a comment or two below. If you are curious about how we can help you out with responsive web design, send us an email or call us at (888) 252-7866 (Toll Free).