Mobile web browsing has been on the rise for several years, growing over 20% in just three years according to data recently published by the PEW Research Center. This long running trend has major brands like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung locked in a gadget race that is connecting thousands of new customers to the mobile web on a daily basis. By considering the specific needs of mobile users, businesses are opening their doors to a vast and rapidly growing market.
As the demand for mobile web experiences has increased, the technologies behind the mobile web have matured and three solutions have emerged as pack leaders.
- Responsive Design: a web site that adapts (or responds) to various screen sizes while preserving usability and aesthetics
- Standalone Mobile Site: detect mobile users and redirect them to a mobile web site on a different URL
- Native App: transform a web site into a standalone application that must be downloaded through a distribution channel such as the App Store.
(Note: For a visually appealing dose of information overload, check out this amazing collection of Mobile Web Infographics.
Responsive Design to the Rescue
There are a lot of things to consider in a mobile strategy. After weighing these options in our own mobile strategies here at Pace, we’ve uncovered some major benefits to the responsive design approach for our client work.
Responsive design is a consolidated solution offering efficiency at every turn:
- All devices are sent to the same place to access your web site
- Content and multimedia is seamlessly shared across all devices
- New features are released in one place and are immediately accessible by everyone
Even if a site isn’t currently responsive, chances are high that it’s built on the same standards that make responsive design possible. By utilizing in-house talent, companies are able to save time and money.
Consistent User Experience
Native apps often include elements that cannot be replicated in a web browser and standalone sites redirect customers to an alternate mobile URL. This inconsistency forces a customer to choose between different user experiences. With responsive design, everything happens within a web browser and the URL remains consistent across all devices.
Retain Social and Organic Traffic
Customers who rely on mobile devices typically use social networks and search engines to find everything. With responsive design, those same customers are immediately treated to a mobile friendly experience. The other solutions risk interrupting the flow of traffic from social networks and search engines, which often leads to higher bounce rates and lost opportunities.
Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The positive impact responsive design has on SEO is much more extensive than what can be covered in a single article. The most important benefit relates to how search engines assign page rank. Many factors influence page rank including:
- how unique the content is
- how many inbound links point to it
- how many users have recommended it
In a responsive site, pages retain the maximum value from these ranking factors by maintaining consistent URLs across all devices. A portion of that SEO value is often lost on alternative mobile solutions.
For a more in-depth look at the SEO benefits of responsive design, we highly recommend “Responsive Web Design: The Ultimate Guide for Online Marketers” by the experts at SEOmoz.
Each solution should be equally considered when building an effective mobile strategy and, at the end of the day, customer satisfaction should be the primary focus. If you’ve had great success with a mobile strategy, let us know what worked for you in the comments below.
Photo by Rafizeldi on Wikimedia Commons via CC License