If you’re a webmaster or business owner, you’ve probably received an email, or phone call, or both (sometimes several times a day) from someone with a service that will provide a “mobile” site for your visitors.
These services will basically create a separate website that your mobile visitors will be directed to, if they land on your regular website, that is formatted specifically for a mobile browser. Sound great, doesn’t it?
There is a MUCH much (much much much) better solution available.
We’re not the only one that believe that running a separate site (and paying someone for the service) is a bad idea. Bruce Lawson over at Smashing Magazine wrote nearly two years ago on this. He has a number of great points, but what it boils down to are (from our point of view) three major problems.
Problem #1: Arbitrarily Pushing Visitors (and customers) from your GREAT Content
If you’re pushing someone in a mobile device over to a site that has nothing but an “about” page, how to “contact” you with perhaps a map, and some social media links, you are assuming that is the only thing that your visitor wants.
This is where you need to find a balance between the two camps of “content is king” and “design is king”.
It is true, in the “local search” market, mobile devices are often used to quickly look up and contact the merchant. The primary use of a mobile phone is, well, to call someone (or at least, it used to be) — looking at cat videos seems to be a increasingly popular pastime.. but I digress.
Let me give you an example of someone who is looking to contact a merchant, but also wants to see what they offer… how about anyone looking for a product or service, such as a florist, a barber, or antique dealer.
If you are arbitrarily limiting what a user is viewing based on their device (as in, seriously limiting the content) that is much like saying in the sense of a brick-and-mortar setting, “We think we want your business, but because you’re wearing glasses, we’ll simplify things for you. Please just look at some posters on our front door — don’t bother coming in, all the information you need is there, trust us. By the way, the door is locked, come back without glasses.”
How would you feel about that?
It might be enough information, but as more and more mobile users are using their mobile devices EXCLUSIVELY to access the web (I can’t remember the last time I pulled up my laptop at home.. oh that’s right, I gave it to my mother-in-law because I NEVER used it).
So if you want to anger your visitors, and spend more money than you have to, go and sign up for one of these services.
Problem #2: Negative Impact of Lost Time-On-Site and Lost Page Views
Good GRIEF. This is something that wasn’t even considered five years ago. But it’s HUGELY important.
If you’re sending someone AWAY from your website, even if it is in a “subdomain” situation, it isn’t helping the ranking of your own primary website.
Google looks at the time-on-site, time-on-page, number of page-views (plus a number of other secret metrics), to figure out how to rank you for any given key term.
If a user is immediately redirected off to a different domain, and doesn’t spend any time browsing your site for contact information, or your content (be it products, photos, services, or whatever you offer) then you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. Google will not attribute the time that the user could have spent (and is now spending somewhere else) to your site.
Problem #3: The Need to Maintain Two Sites
This one is a pretty basic concept. If you have information in two places, then it’s likely something will get out of date.
Granted, a simple “mobile specific” site, as we have been talking about, doesn’t contain a lot of content, it still is something you need to maintain. And pay for.
Just run one website.
Really? Just one? Yes, just one.
But make sure it is MOBILE FRIENDLY, or as we in the business specializing in web design call it… “responsive”.
What “responsive” means is that the containers that the content is resides in, in your web page, should “respond” to a different browser width. Should you be on a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, the content is all the same, just how it is presented is different.
Oh, well there’s this fantastic mobile-first framework that we use in our designs called “Bootstrap”. It’s designed by some of the guys over at Twitter. You might have heard of Twitter.
Anyway, the Bootstrap framework simplifies the organization of content for all devices. As web developers, we set up the organization of the content containers so they shift “this way” or “that way”, based on the size of the device. Sometimes we even hide superfluous content if it seems like something that mobile users don’t need to see.
The benefits of using a responsive framework such as Bootstrap includes only having one site to manage, keeping visitors on site so that you can benefit from longer time-on-site and pages-viewed metrics, as well as allowing the visitor to view the content they WANT to view.
Having a mobile friendly site can mean the difference between someone being able to find they product that they want to purchase (and still call you) and those that have no idea what you have to offer, and subsequently go find another website in search of what they want.
Responsive Websites For Newbies
Now, part of the problem with having to maintain a website that is mobile friendly, is that if you’re going to be managing a traditional website, it’s a good idea to know how to make the regions different sizes. Bootstrap has a fantastic resource site.
But if you’re not a web developer, it can seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve designed and created a WordPress theme framework that does all of the thinking for you.
Aquila (our cool code-name for the framework) was developed to provide all of the power of the MOBILE FRIENDLY nature of the Bootstrap system, but wrap it in an Graphical User Interface (GUI) powered by WordPress.
The short and simple description is this: Aquila allows a user to click and drag to change the widths of the regions, as well as enable and disable regions for mobile and tablet users.
We have a number of professional wordpress themes that utilize this framework.
You can be online in minutes with a mobile, tablet and desktop friendly website all wrapped into one. Watch our introduction video here: