Mobile Website Design Options
A Mobile Site vs. Responsive Design
With the proliferation of mobile and tablet devices many companies are looking at the best method of reaching their customers that are using these mobile devices.
Both a mobile site and responsive design will optimize your site to be more appropriate for smaller screens; both will offer simpler navigation and faster load times. However, there are some considerations that must be addressed before choosing one method over the other.
First, a mobile site is essentially a copy of your website, where the server delivers an optimized page that’s smaller and easier to navigate. The issue here is that you must create a different domain (many companies choose to differentiate theirs by “m.domain.com or domain.mobi”). This separate domain can dilute the non-mobile domain and hurt organic search traffic. Because a mobile site uses a separate domain, links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity toward your primary site. Mobile sites are not as good for search.
In fact, Google’s Webmaster Blog recommends a responsive design: “Maintaining a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoiding any complicated redirects, and simplifies the sharing of web addresses”.
Also, having multiple domains can add to website management expenses because you have to maintain two separate buckets of content. Additionally, re-working of a mobile site might be needed in order to stay current with next-generation phones and mobile browsers. Making changes to multiple platforms could require higher maintenance and costs.
In responsive design, the device does the work and automatically adjusts according to a device’s screen size (large or small) and orientation (landscape or portrait). It switches between these options on-the-fly. The technology is more forward-thinking because the site will work on future devices without having to be programmed further. Responsive design represents a better return on your investment.
Therefore the verdict is in: Responsive Design performs better in Search Engines, Requires less maintenance and will work going forward with new devices that emerge.