Why Responsive Websites Will Kill the “Mobile Web”

posted this in
Web Design
on January 21st, 2013

There has been much debate within the web design and development community recently as to the future of the “mobile web.” A term, in and of itself, that may be the reason for the confusion.

Well-meaning web design companies and business owners refer to those that access the internet on their mobile devices as the “mobile web.” The problem with this term is it infers that there is more than one internet – one for mobile devices and another for desktops and laptops.

And for awhile that was true.

A Website for Every Device!

In the beginning, separate websites were created for this on-the-go, mobile audience. The thinking was that since these mobile devices had much smaller screens, content and design needed to be different for these devices.

While this is all well and good (you should deliver different content to different audiences), the separate websites create a problem. You now have two sites to keep updated, two sites to market and two sites to rank in search engines.

Then add the complexity of the different screen sizes and the explosion of the tablet and smart TV markets. Separate websites for each of these types of devices would quickly become a nightmare to upkeep.

The Response? Responsive Websites

Most designers and developers knew that separate sites weren’t a long-term solution. But they were making the best use of available technology. Now, however, web technology has come a long ways.

Introducing: responsive websites.

Responsive websites are difficult to explain – they’re easier to show. So here’s how to experience the responsiveness for yourself.

If you’re on a desktop or laptop:

  • Resize your browser. (Click in the lower right of this window and drag the window to make it more narrow.)
  • Watch in amazement as Rocket Media’s site transforms to the size of your browser window.

If you’re on a mobile device:

  • Awesome! You’re already experiencing the responsive nature of our website. Notice how you don’t have to scroll side to side?
  • To see the site transform before your eyes, go to rocketmedia.com on a desktop or laptop and follow the instructions above.

Why Responsive Websites are The Future

Currently, businesses that have optimized their websites for mobile, have separate mobile sites. This means that when someone visits their site on a mobile device, they are redirected to a mobile version of that site (usually m.site.com or site.com/mobile.)

This creates a different experience for mobile and desktop users, which can be a pain if you are on a mobile device and the information you needed is only on the desktop version of the website.

Responsive websites eliminate that problem, offering virtually the same experience (albeit simplified) on every device. This is good for your business and your website visitors in several ways.

  • Easier scalability – Creating and maintaining a separate website for each new device can quickly get harry. Now, with the increased popularity of smart TVs, you could end up with a bunch of different websites to maintain. That would get costly very quickly.
  • Increased performance – Redirects to mobile sites take valuable seconds. Web visitors have notoriously short attention spans. They may go elsewhere rather than wait for your mobile site to load.
  • More sharability – If you have a separate mobile and non-mobile site, the URL’s (links) are different. So mobile visitors may end up sharing a mobile page that will render awkwardly on desktops and laptops.
  • Improved usability – Visitors to your responsive website can view every page of your site on any device and still get the info they need, rather than be redirected to another site.
  • Better SEO – Google rewards sites that improve usability. And they have already made it clear that they recommend a single URL (instead of m.site.com or site.com/mobile mobile sites) in most cases. You can get a head of the curve by building a responsive site now.

And the Future is Already Here

Don’t misunderstand us; a separate mobile site is better than no mobile presence at all. (Until very recently, we had separate websites.)

But the future is in responsive website design. The future is a single, consistent experience across all devices. The future is the death of the “mobile web.”