As you may have read, Google has announced that starting April 21 their algorithms will shift to favor websites with mobile-friendly designs. While any of our Essential Clients’ websites will show up on any device regardless of mobile optimization, there are two ways to go about creating a website that is optimized for mobile (which is what Google likes).
The first way to create a mobile-friendly website is to create a separate site just for mobile. With this option, we create a completely separate set of code and include a script that tells browsers to display this set of code on a smartphone, and the desktop set of code on all other devices. The mobile site is indicated by “m.” at the beginning of the URL instead of the “www.”
- User Experience - This way of coding allows us to focus on making sure that the mobile version of the site works well on phones. Buttons are large and easy to click and the menu is simplified for easy navigating.
- Speed – For mobile sites, we remove most of the images from the desktop website to allow more space for text and buttons. With fewer images and animations, the site loads faster, which is great for mobile users.
- More maintenance – A separate code set means that any time you make an update to your desktop site, the edit must be made separately to the mobile site. We do use a service that is meant to sync any changes to the desktop site with the mobile site, but sometimes that doesn’t always happen smoothly.
- Lack of features – The mobile sites we create cannot support the same level of graphics, animations and features that the desktop sites create. This often means that mobile users are not having the same experience on your site as desktop users.
Responsive Web Design
The second way to create a mobile-friendly website is to make your website responsive. Unlike a mobile website, a responsive design uses one set of code, regardless of device. With this option, you only have one website.
- Single website – Having a single website makes maintenance much quicker and easier. You also ensure that your users have the same experience on your website, regardless of how they view it.
- High Tech – Responsive websites use the most up-to-date coding techniques. Because of their fluid layouts, responsive websites are more “future-proof” meaning that they will look good on a wide variety of devices, even as smartphones get bigger and bigger.
- User Experience – Having a responsive website presents the challenge of always presenting the appropriate information to the appropriate audience. For example, more mobile users are going to want easier access to your phone number than desktop users.
- More complicated coding – With one site meant to work across more devices, the coding gets a little more complicated. Exceptions and cases must be made for different devices to ensure a smooth experience across all platforms.
While I believe that the current best practice is to use responsive design, a mobile site can still be a good option. If you haven’t already, consider which option is the best solution for your firm. Then give us a call!