Making Your Website Mobile
Responsive Design vs. Mobile Apps and Mobile Sites
The mobile internet and web world is exploding almost beyond comprehension. Back when we built our first website in early 1994, we could not imagine someone wanting to order a pizza over the internet. It took longer to dial the modem then it did to browse the entire site and place your order. Today, as we all know from our own experience, the world is moving mobile and fast.
Lets look at a few stats, as some of our customers cannot get a grasp on just how important a mobile presence is:
According to Media Behavior Institute, Mobile users increased 32% in the 2nd half of 2012. In January of 2013, 43.5% of worldwide users are accessing the web via mobile device. According to Nielsen, that number is 62% for users in the 25-34 age bracket. By 2014 – or 2015, by some estimates – mobile internet usage is expected to surpass desktop usage. On the numerous sites we have developed and manage we are seeing real data of up to 68.3% of traffic for certain sites.
By the end of 2013, analysts predict there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people!
What does this data mean to you when thinking about your web presence? In simple terms, it means that if your website doesn’t display well in mobile devices, you are missing out on potential customers and clients and you are losing significant web traffic which translates into fewer donations, fewer supporters, fewer members, and fewer advocates. With the phone calls we are getting inquiring about mobile websites, your competitors are taking advantage of this technology.
Which is right for me?
“Why should I have a responsive site if I have a mobile site?” and “Should I build a mobile app?” these are common requests we hear from our clients. The answer is not always straight forward, but for the hundreds of customers we have discussed this with, the answer is almost always boiled down to Mobile vs. Responsive. We have a few customers who can actually benefit from a mobile app, but for minimal confusion, we will skip over mobile apps for now. And while the choice between Mobile Website Design and Responsive Website Design can be confusing, in ALMOST all cases, we still recommend a Responsive Design.
A Mobile Site vs. Responsive Design
| Mobile Site
Browsing and Display Experience
|A mobile site is essentially a copy of your website, where the server detects the device and displays the appropriate version to either the phone or computer. The mobile version is simpler and easier to navigate. The solution can really customize a unique experience for mobile users and retain your branding. We will almost always include a click to call and a map on the home page. A good choice when it might be too expensive to redesign responsively. Many CMS websites have a mobile applet that allows you to have a dedicated mobile site with minimal expense using your existing content.
||In responsive design, the device lets the website know what resolution it can handle and the responsive website adjusts accordingly (large or small) and orientation (landscape or portrait). It will display differently depending on if it is an ipad, tablet, phone or desktop. A very good and flexible solution.|
|With a mobile site, most of the time you create a different domain (many companies choose to differentiate theirs by “m.domain.com” or “mobile.domain.com”). Can dilute domain and hurt organic search traffic. Can add to website management because you have to maintain two separate silos of content.||Responsive design lets you keep all your content on your main domain. The browser resolution decides what format the data will be displayed in. Google thinks this is the better solution:
…Maintaining a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoiding any complicated redirects, and simplifies the sharing of web addresses.
Link Value and SEO Implications
|Because a mobile site uses a separate domain in most cases, the links that are generated from mobile devices can dilute the search link value in your SEO quest. Not as good for search ranking and can have a negative effect on SEO results.||Since responsive design simply embeds new code to change the display resolution on your website, the sites for all devices are the same, just displayed differently. This allows your link value to be combined across all devices. Better option for SEO results.|
|To stay current with next-generation phones and mobile browsers the mobile version may need to be reworked on a regular basis. We saw a lot of rework done when Apple Released IOS 6. Many of the mobile sites did not detect the browser properly and had to be adjusted. Could require higher maintenance expense as the technology shifts.||The technology is more forward-thinking because once added to site it will work on next months and next year’s devices without having to be programmed further. A better return on your investment.|
At Tampa Web Design we have been building Responsive and Mobile Websites for quite awhile. We have hundreds of them. The responsive concept has only been around for about 2 years now and prior to that we built many Mobile Websites. Today, almost everything we build is responsive by default. The exception is certain eCommerce stores with complicated checkouts where the customer is not in a position to spend the money for a responsive solution, but we still build the sites with a Responsive concept for future changes if needed. With several hundred sites used by mobile devices, we have gained the knowledge to understand how mobile customers are navigating and what types of content they are browsing on the devices by industry. For example, for most service businesses, the majority of the mobile users are looking for a number to click on to call, a map for the location and the hours the business is open.