The battle between responsive design and creating a separate mobile site still rages on, and chances are, if you’re looking to have your site updated, or recreated, you want to know which option is right for you.
Today many companies are exploring the possibilities of RWD (responsive web design) and to develop ways of implementing it to best advantage. However, this isn’t to say that separate mobile sites aren’t without their advantages. Indeed, in some cases, a separate site can be preferable, depending on your requirements.
Recently this has been a topic that has been discussed and debated is often a subject that businesses will raise when discussing options for their online presence.
Responsive Web Design…Separate Mobile Site – What’s the Difference?
To outline briefly, there are a few key differences between the two. They are:
One Size Fits All’ vs Separate Sites. Creating a separate mobile site obviously requires additional design, as it is essentially designing a fresh site, separate from the main website. In contrast, responsive design allows your site to be functional on all devices, without the need for extra design. Responsive web design tends to take longer in the initial stages, but obviously, if you’re going to have two sites designed, then this will result in more hours spent beavering away in the design room!
Different Navigation. Typically, responsive web design uses top to bottom navigation, pushing content vertically on the page. (However, this can be adjusted, with some tweaking). A separate mobile site generally reads left to right, which some claim feels more natural, but obviously, depends on the nature of the site, and the content involved. For some sites, such as blogs, or retail companies, top to bottom navigation isn’t a problem. However, it pays to consider this aspect of the design, and consider the experience that you want your users to have when they visit your site.
SEO.Responsive web designs are much easier to handle when it comes to SEO (search engine optimisation), as you are only dealing with a single version of the website. In some cases, having a separate mobile site means that additional and separate focus will need to be in place in optimising the mobile version.
Which Approach for your Business?
When thinking about what option is best for your company, you need to take a few things into consideration. There is, essentially, no ‘right’ answer, and it very much depends upon the nature of your requirements and the results that you want.
RWD can offer a real advantage when it comes to keeping costs down in the long-term, because essentially, you’re only designing the one site. With only one designer, this is likely to help make future maintenance easier too. However, if you’ve already got an existing site, then you may prefer to simply add a separate mobile site to it, to keep things simple.
There’s no doubt that responsive web design tends to come out on top when it comes to SEO and online rankings, which is obviously a major attraction for many companies, particularly those in fiercely competitive industries. However, a good web designer will tell you that SEO is far more than just one element; it encompasses a huge amount of different aspects about your site. In short, there’s no one solution to getting to the first page of Google! (Sadly…)
Some people favor the ease of RWD, as it works across all devices, catering for all screen sizes, from huge desktops to tiny smartphones. However, if you require a particular focus on providing high quality images, then you may want to consider a separate site. RWD works great for most businesses, but be aware; sometimes quality of image can be reduced, depending on the device.
Generally speaking, corporate sites, news sites, location-based sites and blogs tend to benefit best from responsive web design. It can help with maintaining brand consistency, which is very important when establishing your company online.