The increased usage of smartphones and tablets to search the web is now pushing past the 60% mark. It's a persistent race to the finish line that is always moving. In fact, mobile usage is far outpacing desktops.
A recent 2014 study conducted by comScore states:
"We're operating in a multi-screen world, where users turn to multiple devices to find what they need.
This is especially true in the world of local search, where, according to recent survey findings, 63 percent now using various devices to find a local business. And, 79 percent of them are mobile phone users, while 81 percent are tablet owners."
The article goes on to say that four out of five searches via mobile ended with a purchase. That's music to any dealers' ears!
The Early Approach to Mobile Web Design
Back in the early days if a dealer wanted to have a mobile website it meant creating and spending money for two websites – one for desktops and one for the new generation of mobile phones, each site required separate domains. Mobile apps were also a way to "go mobile".
However, the app process took a lot of programming time and money to produce but gave way for a growing number of mobile-savvy users to access the web. Then the Adaptive Design strategy came along.
However, as mobile devices became smarter a new approach to designing for small and large screens have emerged — responsive design.
What Responsive and Adaptive Web Design have in common
According to DigitalFamily.com, both responsive and adaptive web design are mostly "about creating web designs that are optimized for the size of the screen or the type of device that is used to view them. The basic concept is that you create a website that works on multiple screen sizes, most commonly to work well on at least three different screen sizes — a small mobile screen, a tablet-sized screen and a larger desktop computer monitor."
Differences between Adaptive and Responsive
Adaptive design is a method that allows a layering of website design through defined, fixed-grid layout sizes. Use of an automatic detection system on the web server allows it to identify a particular device type that's attempting to access a website and then provide the best version of the site based on the resolution capabilities of the mobile device. An Adaptive design can be more expensive to develop since it requires additional programming to accommodate a variety of mobile devices.
Responsive designs respond to changes in width of the browser window by adjusting the placement of content on a web page to best fit the available space be it desktop, smartphone or tablet. Gone is the need to create just the "mobile-friendly" version of the website. Additionally, Responsive websites can also provide for improved SEO.
OK, so why a Responsive Design?
Let's say you've designed a new website. All the content is there, and it works great on a desktop computer. But what happens when someone wants to look at your website on a mobile device? Without a responsive design, the biggest thing is that they will have a lesser experience browsing your website versus the desktop version. Navigating around the site might be cumbersome, the site might respond slower, which could turn potential customers away.
A Responsive website design provides the ability to take your website content and adapt it to the size of the mobile device is that is viewing your website. It takes the horizontal content of what is displayed on the desktop screen and restacks the content to be displayed on a smartphone or tablet, which can become vertical devices. There are no fixed grid layouts, and there is no reduction in the amount of content or features as the website just gets smaller and reorganized depending on the mobile device being used. The result is a much-improved user experience.
It doesn’t stop here. We keep moving forward.
Many web designers today are moving toward responsive design. DigitalFamily.com says, "It’s so much more efficient to create one design that adjusts to different screen sizes than to create many designs optimized for all the different phones that exist now, as well as all of the new phones and devices that will come out in the future."
We also need to keep in mind that we’re moving into new territory. Soon we won’t be designing websites for just phones, laptops and desktop computers anymore. Websites are being displayed on giant, curved television screens and soon we’ll be surfing with Google Glass. Who knows what else is just around the corner?
So in the end it all comes back to user experience. Making it easy for a potential customer who is on their mobile device to quickly access the information they need. Responsive websites are the next generation of mobile and are available to every dealer right now.