By now, you have probably heard that Google made an important algorithm update that was put into effect on April 21st. This update, which affects search placement of websites on mobile devices, has a lot of people analyzing their own website(s) to make sure they won’t be negatively affected by it in search results. In fact, Google provides a “Mobile-Friendly Test” that will easily show whether your site is optimized for mobile, and if not, how you can fix it.
If you have a separate mobile site (e.g. http://m.sephora.com versus its desktop version http://sephora.com ) or a responsive web design (RWD), you will likely pass Google’s test, but which is better? While Google states that neither mobile-friendly version will have precedence in search results, here are a few reasons why you should take the RWD route:
Google recommends it. As a marketer, you want to make Google happy, and although Google claims to assess mobile-friendliness the same whether the website is RWD or a separate mobile site, according to the Google Developer site, “Google recommends using RWD over other design patterns.” This doesn’t mean that every responsive website will show higher in search results than mobile sites, though. It will also depend on the content and quality of the responsive design.
It’s easier to manage. While mobile-site design is most likely less expensive to implement than responsive design, over time the upkeep of a separate mobile site might cost you. Managing a RWD site is very simple because you can update content once and it is done for both desktop and mobile devices. If you have a separate mobile site, any website changes that you would like reflected on mobile devices need to be made separately.
Better user experience. You want your customers to have the same brand experience, whether they are walking through your store or browsing your website. The same goes for when someone is on a mobile device or a desktop computer. RWD provides a seamless online experience for users switching from viewing your website on their phone to on their laptop.
Design for the future. As mobile devices change, a RWD will be your best option to make sure your website is showing correctly on the latest screen sizes. If your website has a mobile site, you might have to do some tweaking each time there is a new device screen size change in the market. This supports the fact that RWD can be a less costly option in the long run.