Wow, now that is a shocking headline to read, eh? What kind of idiot would say that mobile websites are dead? We all know that mobile Internet use across the U.S. (and the world) is growing extremely rapidly. In fact, many studies agree that Internet use on mobile devices will exceed desktop use within a few years (already happened in India in Spring 2012). Global mobile web traffic now stands at 10%, and is quickly increasing. And don’t only think about Smartphone usage, since 29% of U.S. adults now own a tablet or eReader.
So with all of this growth, why would I be telling you that mobile websites are dead? Because I actually mean, separate mobile sites are dead. Technology now exists that allows you to have a single website that “adapts” to whatever device the user is browsing on. The technology is appropriately named, Adaptive Web Design, or Responsive Web Design. The good news is, well there is quite a bit of good news that I will outline in this article. I’ll summarize by saying, your website strategy just got a lot more simple.
First I would like to briefly explain the two terms mentioned above, because they are slightly different. Responsive web design is sites that can stretch and rearrange themselves based on the width of the browser rendering the site. Adaptive web design first starts with Responsive design and then adds the ability to selectively add, change, or delete functionality based on a user’s capabilities. So the Adaptive design starts with the ability to shrink the design of the website to match the smartphone or tablet that is being used, and then also tweaks the menus and content to match the user’s behavior. For instance, tablet users may want shorter menu choices, and the ability to finger-swipe pages. Smartphone users might want even shorter menus, and the ability to click-to-call, get driving directions, etc.
When I first learned of this technology, and that it was now being offered in the automotive industry, it blew me away. How simple! One single website to manage, drive traffic to, maintain consistent content, and strategize around. It confirmed my enthusiasm this summer when both Google and Bing began officially recommending Responsive Web Design for SEO in their Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, Google said they prefer a single URL since it “…makes it easier for users to interact with, share, and link to your content…” Bing also agrees and adds, “You have more ranking signals coming to this URL…” since “…people do not link to mobile URLs like they link to regular web-situated URLs.” Clearly the two Search giants are telling you that for optimal SEO, Mobile Websites are dead.
How about the challenges we all are familiar with, maintain multiple websites? If you have twice as many websites, you now have twice the work involved in maintaining and promoting these multiple sites. In their guidelines, Bing adds that it is less work (for you the dealer), “…updating and maintain a stand-alone mobile-focused website.”
A single Adaptive website keeps your Internet Manager focused on a single site, removing the distraction of spending time with a separate mobile site.
As we all know, there is a tremendous amount of change occurring in the technology arena. This is one change that we all should embrace, as it actually makes our lives easier! Keep your eyes and ears open for more on Adaptive and Responsive web design, please let me know if I can help you with any questions on this new technology.