We’re blogging all about m-commerce this month. In this post, Mark Bebbington, Developer, discusses whether the use of responsive design or a separate mobile website is the better approach based on your business needs and your users’ needs. AtSMX London this week, Pierre Far of Google stated Google’s preference for simplicity of crawling as being responsive design, saying: “If you can use responsive web design, please please do.” That’s not to say separate mobile websites can’t succeed, of course! We have plenty of examples where they do and as long as you provide the right instructions to the search engines (which we’ll cover in a later post) you’ll have no problems!
Youve decided the web is the best route to take your business to a mobile audience. The next step is to decide on how you can best deliver this content, through either a responsive website, which will cater for both computers and mobile devices, or a separate mobile website.
A person may have a smart phone; tablet and a desktop computer but prefer reading articles on their tablet in portrait mode. Responsive web design allows websites to accommodate these different devices by responding or adapting to the size of the viewport of the device that it is being viewed on.
With responsive design, your website will remain on the same URL, but the way in which it appears to the users will depend on the screen. An example of this our own website.
A separate mobile website is a stand a-lone website that has been designed specifically for mobile, to deliver the best user experience possible for people viewing on smaller screens. Content can be severed to both a desktop and mobile website through an API, which allows data to be stored and managed in one central location.
A separate mobile website is often held on a subdomain, for example www.mobile.yourdomain.com.
When weighing up which approach is best for your business, the context in how a site will be used is key. Responsive Web Design isnt the answer for every mobile website and if youre an e-commerce business trying to engage with a mobile audience I would almost always recommend a separate mobile website for the following reasons:
If you have a blog or brochure-style website, its likely that no matter which device the user will be viewing it from, the website will be used in the same way. These sites are about finding and reading content, which responsive design offers a great solution.
For larger websites, consider the context in which the site will be used and how the content may differ between a mobile and desktop view. If your mobile website requires some degree of interaction beyond finding and reading information, creating a separate mobile website will allow you to best engage with a mobile audience.
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