Mobile usage is growing at a massive rate. At the time of writing some web sites are experiencing 50+% of their traffic from mobile devices. There are two principle types of creating a mobile web site:
Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design allows for content to change and transform based on the size of the device on which it is viewed. The web site will determine a visitor’s screen size and the page layout displays accordingly. Responsive design requires no duplication of content. The content you see on the desktop version of the site is exactly the same as text, images and controls you see on the mobile version. This is the preferred method to create a mobile web site.
- Only one web address
- No duplication of web site content
- The site changes to adapt to the screen width automatically
- Easy and inexpensive to maintain. Once the logic that transforms the experience is built and operating properly, there is little else to update other than content.
- Pages can be very long as the text is compressed into one single column.
Parallel Mobile Web Site
With this method you create two different web sites, one for desktop computers and another for mobile users. However there are problems here; Google indexes two websites that look exactly the same and have very similar content, it chooses to not rank them as well as it could. The term for this in the search industry is “duplicate content.” Many businesses who have built a separate but identical site for mobile visitors can easily fall prey to duplicate content penalties.
- Easy implementation.
- Content can be modified or reduced to fit the mobile format
- Two separate sites must be maintained: 1 Mobile, 1 Desktop
- Often these sites cannot adapt to work with the larger tablet screen size and display the same site designed for the smaller phone screen
- When making one change to content, the parallel site approach requires that you make the update twice – once on the desktop version and again on the mobile version.
- Content duplication risk (a big Google no-no). If the content on the mobile site is an exact match to the content on the desktop version, there is potential for a duplicate content penalty from Google.
Which is best?
There is a place for both methods under certain conditions, but by far the best method is the responsive method. At Bluefusion we no longer create any new web sites that are not responsive.
The benefits of responsive design considerably out way the parallel method so unless you have an old web site created more than 2 years ago and you do not wish to redesign then the parallel method may be your best option until a proper responsive site can be developed.