The hottest debates these days aren't just Obama vs. Romney and Biden vs. Ryan. Web designers are also going head to head in a heated exchange about something that's vitally important to their clients -- especially B2B firms.
The topic: mobile websites.
The issue: creating separate mobile websites vs. creating responsive websites.
So, you may be wondering, what's the Difference?
Dedicated mobile websites are scaled-down versions, with fewer graphics, text, and video than the full-blown desktop site. Dedicated mobile sites are easier to create after the desktop website design has been completed. Because the content from the desktop site is trimmed, mobile browsers may not always be able to find the content they're looking for, which means they have to visit the full website.
Responsive websites are created on the approach that their design should be flexible enough to adapt to the screen size and platform of the visiting user -- whether smartphone, tablet, netbook, laptop or even desktop monitor. That's important because -- as you can tell just by walking down the street and looking at how many people are interacting with their mobile devices -- mobile online usage has exploded. If a website is responsive, it must be designed that way from the beginning.
Mobile Devices in Everyone's Hands
Did you know that about half of all the adults in the United States own a smartphone? Not only that, but more than one-fourth of Americans now use a mobile device as their primary method of accessing the Web. That presents a tremendous opportunity for businesses to connect with their customers.
In fact, according to a prediction by pioneering web analyst Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, "More users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs" by about 2014.
As we mentioned, web designers are still debating whether dedicated mobile websites or responsive design provide a better mobile browsing experience. But responsive seems to be pulling ahead.
Google Gets Behind Responsive
Last June, Pierre Far, Google's webmaster trends analyst, declared responsive design to be the company's formal recommendation for mobile delivery. He summarized why on the Google Webmaster Central Blog:
Using responsive web design has multiple advantages, including:
- It keeps your desktop and mobile content on a single URL, which is easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to and for Google's algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content.
- Google can discover your content more efficiently as we wouldn't need to crawl a page with the different Googlebot user agents to retrieve and index all the content.
Which is Best for Your Business?
If you're considering a mobile site or aren't satisfied with one you already have, it's worth talking to a firm that understands the differences between dedicated mobile and responsive design. There are advantages and disadvantages to each theory.
- A dedicated mobile website can be created separately from your desktop website.
- A responsive design ensures that your visitors have a more consistent browsing experience, no matter what type of device they use.
With mobile devices rapidly overtaking PCs as the primary method for viewing and interacting with websites, carefully consider which type of site will best serve your business now and going forward: responsive or mobile.
With industry giants such as Google declaring their clear preference for the former, it might be time for you jump on the bandwagon, too. But consider all your options first to make sure it's your best option.
Photo credit: tortoiseweb.co.uk
Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a San Diego web design agency. Bop express a business' values through branding, advertising, design and web design. The marketing firm's focus is on small businesses that want an external team of marketing specialists to help give their brand an edge in the marketplace.