Today, businesses are expected to have their website available and performing at its best 24/7 regardless of how the user is accessing the information. This means whether a visitor is using their desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet—your website better be addressing their needs. Since the growth of mobile and tablet, many companies implemented specific mobile websites to address slow performance and load times, which can often frustrate users and deter them from visiting a website. This practice can be detected when there is an “m.” at the front of the URL (e.g. “m.youwebsite.com”)
Albeit a good solution for the advent of mobile, today the practice of the “M.dot” (or mobile site) is slowing in popularity. Thankfully, there is still a solution to continue communication with your mobile audiences. Responsive website design is trumping mobile sites in terms of usability, design and cost effectiveness. Here are the top reasons you should ditch the M.dot and go responsive:
Give users access to the full website
With mobile sites, most companies cherry pick their most popular pages to be viewed by mobile viewers. Oftentimes this leaves visitors with a limited online experience—restricted to the homepage, services or products page, resources and/or contact page. If users land on a page in the site that isn’t mobile friendly, it prompts them to view the page in the constraints of their screen size. Responsive web design eliminates this problem. During the development process mobile-friendly design and coding is implemented to the website as a whole—for a 100% optimized website regardless of the page visited.
Browser performance excels on responsive design
M.dot was originally a tactic to address slow webpage load times. Some businesses may be hesitant to “go responsive” if a mobile browser needs to crawl an entire responsive website as opposed to a mobile site with fewer pages. In reality, M.dot’s load times aren’t performing better than most fully responsive sites. This is due to the time it takes browsers to redirect a mobile user from the full page to the mobile page. Responsive web design requires no redirection—the CSS detects the screen dimensions and loads accordingly.
Make holistic changes to a website
Having a website and a mobile site creates the problem of having to manage two separate entities. Meaning each time the site needs an update or modification (e.g. content edits, new copy, image formatting, new design, usability testing, analytic performance, etc.) the efforts must be duplicated twice—increasing the risk of human error. With responsive web design, changes to the HTML and CSS are completed one time and reflected across all screen versions.
Better SEO performance
In June 2012, Google recommended responsive web design as their preferred configuration for websites. How come? With a separate website and mobile site, Google is then forced to crawl two sites using different Googlebots, therefore slowing down the load times and accuracy. Additionally, responsive web design keeps all web content under a single URL allowing Google to assign accurate index properties (aka – SEO keywords) to the website’s pages.
For the modern day marketer looking to go mobile-friendly, responsive web design serves the needs of both the user and the business. The user experiences a tailored, easy and speedy browsing experience, while the business showcases a well-designed, forward-thinking brand.
This blog post was originally published to the SCORE Small Business Success Blog on February 12, 2014.