You might see them or heard about them and some of you visited the in the past. We are talking about mobile websites. It looks almost like a waste time talking about these kind of websites when RWD trend is growing and in such a pace, but I think that this is actually the best time possible. It is in periods like this when two competitors are fighting for the right to not only live, but to shape the future. The future of the web.
To make it little bit easier to compare, we will discuss both options – mobile & RWD – separately. Some of you probably already picked their favorite or are even sure who the winners is (guess who), however it is better to view the situation from all angles. Let’s take it chronologically and start with mobile websites.
You will not see this so often today, but these types of pages are still living. You can recognize them by looking for “m.” at the beginning of url address. Another way, very sad, is by looking for link to mobile version right on the website you are browsing. These website are separate pages created specially for mobile resolutions. You can spot this when browsing them on desktop. The biggest issue is the need to navigate user on mobile to click one more time just to get on page better suited for his device. By this you are splitting the visitors between your desktop and mobile version of site. It might seem inappropriate to you, but I would compare it to asking a customer in restaurant to drive few blocks further because he wants to eat in non-smoking section and this is for smokers. Maybe it is too farfetched, but the principle is similar – you are asking your customer to move to different place. Since great user experience and customer satisfaction is or should be our main goal, we should always provide the least demanding options or alternatives. By my opinion, this is not exactly what mobile version of website does.
I’m not sure about this, but redirecting the visitors of your website can also have negative impact on bounce rate measured by search engines. To explain it, “bounce rate” indicates percentages of people who leave your page rather than continue viewing other pages as well. By this the search engines can try to measure how useful that page was to the searched keywords. Another issue with mobile comes from logical deduction. If you have mobile page, then your main (desktop) version can be hard to view on small screens. As we know mobile users, and users at all, are not so patient beings. When it comes to internet, you have only couple of seconds to attract them, otherwise the will leave the page. If you use some script to automatically redirect mobile users this is not a problem for you. If you don’t, imagine how visitor have zoom in to read the text on your website because the layout is too big, then look for link to mobile version and then wait to be redirected on this mobile site and wait for loading it. It does not sound good and it is not something you want to invest your time in.
Responsive pages are based on three pillars. These pillars are fluid grid, media queries and flexible images. With use of them you can are able to create a website that will smoothly adapt to resolution of device the site is viewed on. The biggest benefit of responsive websites is that they does not require you to build two separated pages. You don’t need to create one for desktops and another for mobile (m.domain.com). Well, you will need to create or customize the layout of your website to suit different devices, but everything is happening on one page. This brings another pros in the form of better SEO and probably lower bills for hosting. With responsive page, all the visitors of your website stay there. You are keeping all the traffic straight to your main page. Since the RWD philosophy is? I think the future, search engines will start to improve their algorithms to support them and will probably prefer them as more user-friendly over the mobile ones, which are often using old technologies and are not optimized properly.
In the beginning it almost looked liked a trial against mobile web, so I will slow down at least in here, at the end.
It is not so easy to say which solution is better or which should you choose. This depends on what do you expect and also the amount of time you have. However, given the statistics of growing percentage of mobile users, RWD is my personal favorite and pick for the winner. Still, it is better to be prepared in any way no matter what solution will you decide for.
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