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Category: Digital Marketing

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Build a Mobile Website

November 16, 2011

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:

  1. 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!)
  2. Diluted SEO Authority: With separate URLS, one for desktop and one for mobile, your SEO authority quickly becomes diluted.
  3. 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.

Responsive Web Design Example

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.

Feeling Responsive?

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).

  • It’s more work up front, but it pays off big time in the future!

  • I recommend that my clients implement technology in phases so they can begin realizing a return sooner rather than later.  For mobile, not all businesses need a mobile site yet because their audience is not connecting through mobile.  

    I have a client that averages 96k visitors monthly and less than 300 arrive via mobile browsers.  I would review analytics to the site first and then determine if a mobile site is worth the investment.

    But in the next 5 years, almost every business will need to have a mobile friendly site. It is estimated that almost every person on the earth will have a mobile phone by 2015

  • The number of smartphone users surfing the web from their phones is only
    going to increase from this point on as technology rises to the
    challenge of creating a truly mobile web experience. Faced with this
    kind of push for websites that can handle the demands placed on them by
    so many different browsers and devices, businesses can no longer regard
    responsive web design as simply another passing fad; this one is here to

  • gar

    Is there a way to define certain pages to show up on only mobile devices. They would be designed using the the features of a dedicated mobile page that would normally be on a dedicated mobile-only webpage.

  • Scott Holzrichter

    For web-hosting service, they must already be heavily into the development of responsive web design (for their clients’ direct use) or they will die.

    • @scottholzrichter:disqus Absolutely agree that web design agencies must be following responsive design practices! This article was originally written in 2011 when web design agencies were still debating how to go about mobile design/accessibility. Thanks for reading our blog!

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