As a good chunk of the internet is finally starting to switch to responsive websites, let’s put another nail in the unresponsive website design coffin. For social media, consistency between mobile devices and desktops is imperative.
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can send a good measure of traffic to websites, particularly if appropriate campaigns are being run on them. Creating landing pages that are “social-appropriate” can be a challenge when there are two variations of a website running, which is the case with adaptive websites that present different pages for the same URL depending on the device through which they’re called. If the goal is to send traffic to the website through social media, responsive is an ideal solution.
Most marketers are aware that Pinterest can take a website from unknown to super successful with a single pin. However, up until now, finding the secret formula for content that will take off and go viral has been largely based on experiment. Marketers have been scrambling to find a way to reach the largest market possible using Pinterest as the medium.
There’s a disturbing trend I’m seeing in the automotive industry when I visit websites. Perhaps it’s been like this for a while and I simply took my eye off the chat ball. When I see chat windows that instantly prompt for the customer’s contact information, it makes me cry a little inside.
This isn’t what chat is supposed to be about. I’d love to have that debate with anyone. Chat is an alternative means of instant information. In other words, it’s more akin to phone calls than to anything else. If you believe in having a barrier of entry for your customers to chat, then you should have your receptionist answer the phone with, “Thank you for calling XYZ Motors. Can I have your name, phone number, and email address, please? No? Okay, thank you for calling.”
Groupon, the former daily deals site that turned into a social deals site that is trying to turn into a marketplace site has released its first redesign just in time for its five-year birthday. They aren’t just changing colors from old-school green to clean and tidy white. They’re trying to reinvent themselves… again.
After passing up on a $6,000,000,000 offer from Google a few years ago, they’ve had ups and downs. Mostly downs. That’s not to say that they don’t have a future, but it will take more than a redesign and a new direction to justify passing up on billions.
Here’s what Mashable had to say about the new design:
When users visit Groupon now, they will see a spotlighted deal followed by personalized collections of deals and a left-hand navigation menu, which lets users browse deals by category. There is now a search option featured prominently at the top — long overdue — which finally lets users search for keywords across categories. For example, someone looking for sushi would be shown restaurant deals, as well as deals for sushi classes and merchandise.
Earlier this week I wrote a controversial piece about responsive website design that brought the ire of professionals within my industry and a flood of emails calling me all sorts of names. Yes, there were those who agreed as well, but they were the minority.
In retrospect, I sold out. I looked at the data, saw how responsive websites were not performing very well on mobile devices in industries that were heavy on data, and came to the conclusion that adaptive was a better solution for some. I stand by that statement based upon practicality, but there’s an addendum to that answer: if you want to do the absolute best practice possible, it would be to build your website from mobile up rather than from PC down.
It’s always easier to make a site more complex than to simplify it. Adding features is simply easier than taking them away. If you build your websites with the following three ideas in mind, you have the greatest chance for success:
Mobile is huge and getting huger. Assume that your website will be accessed as much if not more on mobile devices in the near future than on big screens.
People love mobile designs because they’re used to them. If a website displayed on a PC operates much the same as it would on a mobile device, it will perform better. That’s not to say that you need to sacrifice design or make your website look amateur on a big screen, but strive to make it “mobilesque”.
Touchscreen functionality and the art of scrolling rather than clicking is becoming more of a “thing” for desktop websites. Keep that in mind when you build pages.
If you take into account how your website will load, operate, and perform on mobile devices and build up from there, you will find that your overall website performance will improve. The problem with responsive websites in some industries is that they cram as much as they can to fill out the big screen and then it looks terrible and performs poorly on the small screen. Work from the small screen up and the website will do better regardless of the device.
The other day I wrote an article about whether or not to use responsive design on a website. There are really only two choices nowadays – responsive or adaptive – and I recommended in the case of websites such as car dealer websites that adaptive was actually the better choice for now.
Needless to say, I received some nasty emails from those who are fans of responsive design. I, myself, am a big fan of responsive design and noted as much in the post. However, there are certain “heavy” websites that should lean towards adaptive until the internet infrastructure and delivery technology are mastered.
With that said, blogs must be responsive to succeed in today’s media consumption society. There was a time not too long ago when the big push was for “news nuggets”. It was a world that we thought we were getting into that focused less on long-form content and more on content that got to the point quickly. That was a false-positive on the death of long-form content and I was one of those who was (at least partially) wrong about it.
Today, people really do want to take their little gadgets that they carry with them everywhere and read a whole story.
More importantly for the sake of responsive design, blogs are “lite” websites. They aren’t car dealer websites. They aren’t realtor websites. They aren’t loaded (normally) with a ton of hi-res pictures, HD videos, and a ton of widgets and calls to action on every page.
Bloggers, if you thought I was talking to you the other day, I wasn’t. I’m talking to you now. Go responsive or go home.
There was a huge uproar in the search marketing and website design industry last year when Google came out and recommended responsive web design. While Google has been known to make recommendations in the past, they’ve never tackled this particular issue definitively until June, 2012. Since then, many companies have been scrambling to convert to a responsive design.
They reiterated the need for a mobile solution earlier this year when they said that they would soon stop showing web pages that improperly redirected to a different page when called up on mobile devices. The two pieces of news were combined because of a logical series of assumptions:
Google wants pages to render on any device
Responsive website design accomplishes the goal
Google likes responsive website design
Therefore, Google does not like adaptive website design
Everything is fine until you come to the conclusion. From a search perspective, properly coded adaptive websites with identical intents on all devices combined with proper transfer of HTML content are just as easy to rank well on Google as responsive website design.
As I researched this, I found one things that was disturbing and that needs to be addressed. The opinions most commonly expressed by companies weighing in on the debate between between responsive website design versus adaptive website design always ran parallel with the offerings of the company posting the opinion. If they offered responsive design, they said that responsive design was the only way to go. If they offered adaptive websites, they said that adaptive was the best way to go.
The unbiased publications that I read almost all came to the same conclusion – functionality of the site was much more important than the type of design used. In other words, if responsive design made it challenging for a website to function properly on mobile devices, then adaptive websites were recommended. If the flow was fine between devices and the path to turning to responsive design was an easy one, then that was the way to go.
I’m going to start with the “bias” on my end and finish this paragraph with the punchline. The bias is this: my company is developing responsive website design for our clients. The punchline is this: even with this knowledge, I still recommend adaptive for any website (including my clients’ websites) that are picture- and call-to-action-heavy on important pages such as inventory.
I have yet to see a responsive car dealer website that did not sacrifice functionality and speed for the sake of responsive design. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum – websites that looked great and worked fine on mobile devices but that were bare-bones in their PC functionality and I’ve seen websites that looked great on a PC but that were too slow and rendered improperly on many mobile devices. I haven’t seen any that have done it “right” yet because of the nature of car dealer websites.
Most importantly, I’ve seen dealer websites that switched from adaptive to responsive that watched their website leads drop as a result. I have yet to see a single one that saw leads increase. This will change as responsive technology, internet speeds, third party plugins, and image crunching (especially for dealers that load up 30+ images on their vehicle detail pages) improves, but as of now responsive has been a huge flop.
I should also note that I jumped on the responsive bandwagon back in 2011 and strongly pushed for my company to adopt it way back then. Thankfully, we didn’t.
Final note on top of the other notes: for the majority of websites, responsive is likely the best solution. Car dealers have unique website formats. On any given page, especially the all-important vehicle details pages, there may be three or four plugins, a dozen calls-to-action, and dozens of photos that have to be brought in through 3G or 4G connections. The biggest difference between adaptive website design and responsive website design is when the changes are made to adjust for the device. On adaptive websites, the changes are server side, meaning that the data being sent is determined from the server before being sent to the device. With responsive design, the changes are client side, meaning that the whole web page is sent through and then the device is told how to piece it all together.
Here’s a very slanted infographic, one that actually does have some valid points (thankfully). Whoever built it likes adaptive and while they are being too harsh in my opinion about responsive, they still bring up some real challenges.
The rise of content marketing and more importantly the focus that Google and Bing have put on website content engagement have changed the way we view the types of content we put on our websites. It’s no longer sufficient to focus all of your content on the basic search engine principles of keyword targeting. You have to have content on your domain that draws in the important social signals and time spent on site.
Experts can offer whatever reasoning they want about why sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest became successful, but at the end of the day it’s a no-brainer that they turned pictures into the ultimate addictive hook to their sites and apps. We are visualizing creatures. We love to see things more than we love to read about them.