Responsive or Repetitive Design?


Mobile-geddon is upon us. We live in the end times where Google gives preference to mobile ready websites on mobile searches. When someone does a search for pizza joints on their smartphones, Google will rank pizza joints with mobile ready websites higher.

Why you may ask? Because Google is protecting the quality of its search results, and if you are conducting your search on a tablet, for instance, it would be nice if you could read the results on the device you searched on.

Why should you care? Because more and more web traffic is taking place on hand-held devices. Mobile usage passed Desktop usage in early 2014 and it’s growing. With your potential customers spending more time staring at those little screens, you could get left out if your site is deemed unworthy.

To accommodate the ever-growing variety of screen sizes a site can potentially be viewed on, many website owners are turning to something called Responsive Design. Responsive Design automatically “responds to” the size of the browser window. It resizes and reconfigures a site so it displays properly on all screens regardless of size.

Unintended Consequences

This is all well and good, but I have noticed an unintended consequence to this “responsive rapture”. In an effort to comply and come up with a generic design that works everywhere, many businesses are losing their branding. Many sites are looking the pretty much alike, making it harder to stand out and reach their target audience.

It’s OK if you’re mega-brand. But if you’re a small company you risk fading into background. I have even seen cases where companies are taking the minimal mobile design and scaling it up for their desktop versions.

What’s going on here? I chalk it up to panic, a few opportunistic developers and a big dose of misinformation. Google is favoring mobile ready websites on mobile searches. Searches on desktops are the same as they’ve always been. Also merely being responsive doesn’t give you any advantage — the usual rules of marketing communications and user experience still apply — a compelling design, targeted copy, intuitive architecture, strategic use of photos and video are all still important.

That said, how do you avoid Mobile Monotony?

Don’t give up so quickly
Your online brand is your company’s life blood, insist on some level of brand consistency. Make every element count — if using a big image make it a one that stands out and really says something about your business. Get the most out of color, fonts, and, of course, messaging.

Don’t be a Sheep
Go out of your way to use a different layouts, — there are thousands of templates out there, all responsive, all customizable. Put some time into finding something that speaks to you.

Give your site a “Appy” ending
There are ways to create custom, feature rich Apps that fit just about any budget. Aside from maintaining your brand identity, the Apps are truly interactive and take full active advantage of being on a mobile platform instead of “just being there” with a passive website.

An App, which is downloaded onto your customer’s mobile device allows you to text message, share photos and video, push information and generally engage in 2 way communications.

Going Old School
If you have the budget you can do it the old-fashioned way and build a separate mobile version of your site. The upside is that you can retain all of your branding. The downside, aside from cost, is that you’ll have to update your content twice — one on the main site and again on the mobile version.

Whatever path you take…

Having a mobile presence is no longer a novelty or a luxury. With more and more web traffic taking place on the road, you want to make sure your customers, and prospects, don’t leave home without you.

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