To determine if responsive design or a separate mobile website is better for your business, first determine what somebody is doing while looking at your website from a mobile device.
If you’re a food brand, and somebody wants to learn more about your product, he’s probably looking at your website on a cell phone in a super market or at a retail location. So, it makes sense to provide him information about the product that’s easily accessible. If someone pulls up your website on a desktop computer, they may be looking up information about the company, it’s causes or other information. In such a case it might make sense to have a separate mobile website, whether it’s for an individual product or a line of them. It helps uses get the information they want, in the format they want it, on the device their using, without the extra hassle of a poor user experience or unnecessary navigation.
On the opposite side, you may have an automotive repair shop or a doctor’s office where somebody who looks at the website on his cell phone is wondering how to contact the business and how to get there. That person will appreciate having directions, parking instructions, and the ability to click on a phone number that dials the front office. But, otherwise they may want access to all the same information they’d be looking for if they were surfing the site from a desktop or laptop.
So, determine what your audience member is doing whenever he looks at the website on his mobile device. Use that as your lead off point.
The great part about responsive design is it eliminates any need for duplicative work. Rather than managing a standalone desktop version and a separate mobile website, all the data is in the same place on the same website, even if you show different pieces of content on a desktop, laptop, iPad, tablet, or smart phone. But with a stand alone mobile site if you update one small fact about your product on your desktop website, you must do the same on you your separate mobile website. If you have a whole fleet of mobile websites, you can imagine how the time adds up.
Responsive design tends to make more sense because it is easier to manage and easier for the visitor to your website to obtain the information he needs quickly.
To this end, we worked with a hybrid shop which had completed its initial advertising, educating people about the shop and its concepts. One day, someone who couldn’t find the shop pulled up the website up on his phone in hopes the website would help him. Unfortunately, the shop wasn’t using responsive design at the time. So, this possible customer had trouble navigating the site and getting to the right location.
After incorporating responsive design, several locations had customers who talked about the mobile website and how it helped them in finding the difficult location. Being able to pull the website up on the cell phone quickly, see a picture of the shop, and know what to look for from the road made it easier for customers and actually resulted in customers arriving earlier for their appointments.
Additionally, we helped consult with a restaurant group with most of their locations located in high-density metropolitan areas. The group had a Flash-only website that didn’t work on iPhones and poorly on all smart phones that supported Flash. The group received tons of calls almost every day from people asking about parking. The group ended up implementing responsive design and calls regarding parking dropped off by 95% across six major locations. People appreciated the ability to pull up the website on their smart phones and see where to park.
Can you relate to any of these examples? If so, responsive design may be best for you, too.