Tag Archives: adaptive

3rd Party Plug-ins Need Responsive Design

If you haven’t seen and learned about the power of Responsive Web Design, you’re missing a great new piece of digital marketing technology.  Responsive Design throws out the idea of mobile websites, and instead builds a multi-device-capable platform around a single website.

My company offers Responsive Websites, and I’m learning that others providers are also entering this exciting space.  For our automotive dealer customers, the benefits are enormous with sites that offer better consumer experiences, improved SEO and Social capabilities, and also also easier to maintain.

The next challenge for Responsive Website Design in the automotive space is convincing our 3rd Party Plug-in Providers that they also need to embrace this technology.  I am referring to the many plug-ins for pricing, chat, online negotiation and financing that currently are built around desktop and mobile websites.  When a Responsive Website attempts to plug-in some of these 3rd party modules, the consumer experience is not always consistent, with chat or pricing windows appearing in varied styles on smart phones and tablets.

Clearly some standardization around Responsive techology is needed for 3rd parties creating website modules, and Dominion is willing to help lead this charge.

What do you think?  Any 3rd Party Plug-in providers ready to dive in?

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5 Reasons to Hate Your Mobile Website

On January 9 2007 Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld convention, and started a revolution in the way people consumed the web.   As Apple and their competitors began shipping millions of smartphones to the masses, the need for websites compatible with the smaller screen became critical.  The website world responded with a “mobile website”.  The mobile website was designed as a separate site, that would be served up when it detected the user was on a mobile device.  Then on January 27, 2010, Steve Jobs again changed the rules by announcing the iPad introduction at an Apple press conference, and website providers scrambled to update their strategy.

Many dealers still have these old mobile websites.  Folks, your mobile website is a 2007 solution to a 2013 problem, and you should hate it for the following reasons:

Reason 1:  You’re spending too much money.  Logic tells us, if we build both a desktop site and a mobile site, it will cost more than building a single website.  In addition, that same logic tells us if we have to maintain two websites, it will take more time versus one site.   Maintaining two sites also introduces the chance for errors, omissions, and situations where the two sites have different data.  Save your time and money by building one Responsive website.

Reason 2:  Your SEO is not what it could be.  Both Google and Bing are on record, they prefer a single Responsive website instead of multiple sites.  For the search engines, a single website means indexing is easier, and increases the likelihood of delivering the desired content to the user.  With multiple sites, your inbound linking strategy becomes confusing.  Which links should you work to build, ones to your desktop or mobile site?  The choice is clear, a single Responsive website results in superior SEO.

Reason 3:  You’ve got 2 website addresses.  Remember we said it was a band-aid approach, and having both a mobile and desktop website is a sloppy solution that delivers poor results.  What happens if a desktop user Facebook-shares a page on your main website, but mobile shoppers click on the links?  Redirects happen, and many times they happen poorly, delivering the wrong pages to the user and increasing abandon rate. have different addresses.  Responsive gives you consistency, one site with same content and same experience.

Reason 4:  Your Analytics are difficult to track.  Our website analytics help us answer many questions for our marketing strategy, but two URLs results in misleading and confusing statistics.  To get a true picture of your website results, you may need to combine multiple reports, and layer information.  With a single website, you have a single analytics report, showing you where you’re having success, and where you need attention.

Reason 5:  Your users hate your mobile website.  Why do I feel this way?  A separate mobile website is doomed from the beginning.  We’re giving the shopper a different user-experience depending on the device they’re using, in many cases with conflicting content since we have to maintain them separately.  In addition, nearly every mobile website is “limited function” which means not all of the content from the main website is included.  For reasons listed above, a mobile shopper may be sent to pages that don’t exist, have conflicting information, throw the user onto a desktop site (pinch, zoom, scroll…leave) or simply give an error page.  The old strategy of using redirects doesn’t always work, and is again…a band-aid strategy.

It’s time we stepped back a bit and re-evaluated our reactive strategy with multiple websites.  Is it feasible to create a new website for every new mobile device that hits the market?  Of course not.  We need to replace our band-aid tactics with a strategic approach to build a single website that responds to whatever device is being used.  Once we turn this page, and move forward with a single Responsive website, we no longer need to worry about new devices hitting the market, since we’re already compatible.  We can focus on effective marketing, and stopping fighting technology.

SEO + Mobile Websites = #Fail

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” 

― Albert Einstein

With this famous quote, Einstein got it right.  If we continue doing the same things we’ve done in the past, we are likely to fail.  Several years ago, thanks to Steve Jobs, Smart Phones burst onto the tech scene and forever changed the way we surfed the web.  Retailers responded with mobile websites, and for a short time we felt we addressed this significant change.  Only a few years ago, again thanks to Steve Jobs, Tablets appeared, and again our mobile website strategy cheese got moved and retailers scrambled.  An estimated 122 million Tablets were sold in 2012, in all shapes and sizes.  Today there are an incredible number of Smart Phones, Tablets, and now Phablets (combination phone/tablets), and they all come in different shapes and sizes.  That old strategy of building mobile websites is completely broken.  It is a 2008 solution to a 2013 problem.

I’ve written about this subject, and most who understand these changes would agree, the intelligent retailers are looking for a change.  Lo and behold, the technology gods delivered to us Adaptive/Responsive Web Technology, and we are thankful for it.  What is Adaptive Web Technology (AWT)?  AWT means that you can forget about having a mobile site, a tablet site, and your desktop site.  Instead, you have one single site that simply “adapts” to whatever device is browsing.  This adaptation includes changing the layout, navigation, reprioritizes content and changes calls to action.  Google the subject, you’ll be amazed when you see an example.

When I say “adapt”, I don’t mean redirect.  Redirects are also a 2008 solution to a 2013 problem.  Since most mobile websites are scaled-down versions of the main website, not every page on the main website exists on the mobile site.  That means if I’m surfing a dealer’s website on my desktop, find a cool Specials page and “share” it on Facebook, people on a mobile device may get a redirect that points them to the homepage instead (since that Specials page may not exist on the mobile website).  It is also very common to accidentally create “redirect loops” where users are bounced back and forth between mobile and desktop sites since the redirect code may not be updated.  Finally, you must keep in mind that having redirects on all of your pages will increase page-loading time, which hurts the user experience and leads to high abandonment rates.  Stop doing redirects…time to change to AWT.

If you’re not convinced yet that AWT is the technology of the future, would it help to know that both Google and Bing have embraced and recommended this technology?  This past summer they both said they preferred a single responsive website, vs. having both desktop and mobile sites.  Why did they make this recommendation.  A single website simply makes search indexing much more effective.  Google stated they prefer single URLs because ‘it makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content’ and that is helps ‘Google’s algorithms assign indexing properties for the content.’  Bing also agreed that there are SEO benefits for single URL: ‘You have more ranking signals coming to this URL… the vast majority of mobile URLs do not have inbound links from other websites as people do not link to mobile URLs like they link to regular web-situated URLs.’  I don’t know about you, but if it’s important to Google and Bing, then it is important to me!

The Search Engines also have a vested interest.  When you have both mobile and non-mobile sites, the SE crawlers are actually crawling your site multiple times, using a lot of your bandwidth, and slowing performance for your users.  Very bad.  The indexing process is also completely duplicated, since Search Engines sees an entirely new site, potentially causing duplicate content issues.  Remember, around 30% of searches today are via a mobile device, and that number is rapidly growing.  Dealers need a 2013 mobile strategy.

From the dealer’s perspective, multiple websites means multiplying the work involved to achieve great SEO.  Third party linking must be duplicated from scratch for your mobile site, and that is not likely to happen effectively since people don’t tend to link or share mobile URLs.  Whether you do your SEO internally or use a third-party, all SEO optimization effort is duplicated, increasing costs and decreasing performance of your campaigns.  Some will deal with these problems by altering the ROBOTS.TXT file to block the Search Engines from crawling the mobile site, putting priority on the non-mobile site.  They will then use redirects to send mobile traffic to non-indexed mobile site, however redirects often fail (see previous).

From the consumer’s standpoint, we would all prefer a single website that automatically adjusted to any screen size, from the smallest Smart Phone, to the largest LED television.  Consumers don’t want a scaled-down mobile site that is lacking key content, or has out of date information.  Most consumers will form their first impression of retailers based on how well the website performs on various devices.  I know if I go to a website that doesn’t adapt well on my phone or iPad Mini, I abandon and go somewhere else.

You get the picture; you need a 2013 strategy to deal with the device explosion that is going on today.  You need a strategy that makes it so that your website is immediately compatible with the new iPad Mini the day it arrives in stores.  It’s all about conversions and sales in the end, and Adaptive websites help the Search Engines find your website, improve the experience, and help get them converted.  Adaptive and Responsive website technology is that 2013 solution, and Mr. Einstein would be proud of those ready to adapt to this change!

Mobile Websites are Dead

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.

Does Your Website Adapt?

Almost every I talk to these days either wants a mobile or tablet version of their website, or perhaps they already have one.  And why shouldn’t they? We see it every day in stores, at work, at the soccer field, and (unfortunately) while driving in cars; everyone has their face buried in a Smart Phone.  The statistics tell the story best, rapid growth in mobile browsing.  This clear trend makes mobile and tablet website presence a requirement.

The problem is, you need one design for the iPhone, another for the iPad, the BlackBerry, Kindle, Nook.  In the next 3-5 years we will need additional designs for more devices.  We all must recognize that this requirement will never stop.

For dealer website designers and developers, we’re past the point where we can effectively keep up with the onslaught of new devices, screen sizes and resolutions.  Maybe your website designer has told you that building a new version for each device and screen resolution is not practical.  What should we do?

What if you could just focus on building one website, and it would automatically adjust, shrink images, and change content based on the browsing device?  What if you never had to worry about the next new connected device for browsing your website?  The answer is easy, and it starts with a platform called Adaptive Website Design.  What does this mean?  An Adaptive Website automatically adjusts the screen resolution, menus and images, while also altering the content and menu structure depending on the size of the screen.  You no longer need to worry about, “Does this work on the new iPad, or the new [fill in the blank]?”  When websites are built with Adaptive technology, they don’t care if your screen is a jumbo flatscreen in the basement of someone’s house, or the smallest smartphone browsing in the doctor’s office.  The website simply “adapts” to the new device.

The concept of adapting the screen size and images is pretty straightforward, but we do need to give some thought to how we might want to adapt the menu structure.  Making all of the content from a large desktop screen available on a smaller mobile screen is rarely the best answer.  For mobile environments the user wants simpler navigation, more focused content, lists or rows instead of multiple columns.  For car dealers, that means skipping the pictures of our sales team, and instead making sure that the mapping function is high and prominent.  We may also want to adapt the site for mobile to avoid presenting long contact-us forms, and instead opt for click-to-call functions. We must think about the functions that are important to a mobile user, and make sure that when the website adapts, we make the right menu and content decisions.  If your provider offers Adaptive Websites, they can give you guidance and recommendations here.  The wonderful thing about adaptive websites, is that you can set up these defaults, then your website automatically defaults depending on the screen size of the user.

Choosing the Adaptive approach for your dealer website means you no longer need to worry about today’s or tomorrow’s devices, since the site will always adapt to any device.  You can develop a single website design, and know that the same, consistent content will be delivered to users regardless of the device they’ve chosen.  Best of all, the experience can still be customized to tailor to the needs of the mobile vs. home-based shopper.

When I first saw an Adaptive Website, I was blown away by the technology.   It not only improves the experience for the shopper, but it is much easier for the dealer to set up and maintain.  In the future, all websites will adapt to Adaptive Website technology, you should push your website provider to make you among the first.  Say goodbye to worries about mobile and tablet shoppers, and focus on selling cars!