Responsive web design as a mobile-first strategy has been floating around for a while, and more and more dealer websites are getting odn board with it. But there are still a few hesitating to jump on this band wagon, and I think it might have something to do with the myths surrounding RWD.
But first, what exactly is Responsive Web Design? In a nutshell, RWD uses the same HTML code and the same URL across all devices, but it responds to different screen sizes. You can compare responsive design to adaptive design (or dynamic serving), which is when a different HTML code is used for each device, but uses the same URL. Web designers can also choose a completely separate mobile site that delivers different HTML code and a brand new URL. Google lists all three of these options to create a mobile-first strategy, but it clearly states that it recommends a responsive design for three reasons:
- It’s better for SEO. Google knows a responsive design means multiple devices can easily use your site, which is a good thing from their point of view.
- It’s better for conversion. This is true because a RWD lowers the chance of mistakes and speeds up load time.
- It’s makes things easier. Users can share your content with a single URL and it allows Google’s algorithms to index your pages more accurately.
So why would anyone use a design other than RWD? Well, there a few myths out there preventing dealers from making the switch, and I’d like to set things straight.
Myth 1: Google doesn’t recommend RWD for all sites
There’s a rumor going around that Google only recommends responsive design for sites that are content-based, and only because this is the easiest method for sites. The myth says complex sites, like a dealership website, are just too busy to not have different HTML for each device.
This is false. Google wholeheartedly recommends responsive design for all websites, no matter the content. So that means everything from culture blogs to car dealer websites all need to be following responsive design best practices.
Myth 2: Responsive sites hide some content on certain devices
If you’re looking at your site on your phone, you might see your content in a different format, like shrinking two columns down to one, but that doesn’t mean important information is lost. The whole point of having a responsive site is to engage more users on multiple devices, especially mobile, and to get them the information they need as soon as possible. So why would a responsive site cut out necessary info? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Myth 3: Many large, frequently visited sites don’t use a responsive design
There is some truth to this one. Yes, popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Amazon don’t have a responsive design. But do you know what they do have? Mobile apps. Millions of users a day log in to these internet giants, so it’s in their best interest to create an app rather than a responsive site. If the same car shoppers visited your site every day for years, it would be in your best interest to create an app too, but buying a car is a long-term investment that most people only do every five years or so. You’d save more money and more time with a responsive design over building your own app, but I bet you already figured that out.
So yeah, this one’s true, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your dealer site.
Myth 4: You can get the best of both worlds by combining responsive and adaptive design
Remember how we defined responsive versus adaptive design at the beginning of all this? One keeps the HTML code across all devices, and one changes the code to fit each device. You can’t pick and choose certain elements of responsive to mix with adaptive. It just doesn’t work like that. If you want the benefits of a responsive site, you have to put in the work to build one. It’s all or nothing. But if you’re willing to have a “combined” responsive and adaptive site, then you clearly recognize the benefits of RWD anyway. So why not just go all the way and commit to a responsive site?
We’re all on board at this point of having a mobile-first design, and Google has offered a couple of ways to do it, but there’s only one that they recommend. A responsive web design makes sure you have a mobile site that’s easy to access while also boosting your SEO, improving your loading times, and just making things simpler all around. There’s a lot of false information out there about what makes the best site, so before you decide which method works for you, make sure your getting all the facts and aren’t listening to bad advice.
Author: Michael DeVito
Chief Creative Officer Michael DeVito oversees the Design, Development and Production departments at DealerOn. Michael is an expert in interactive design, UX, brand identity design, content creation and print collateral, and is also responsible for the design and coordination of the development of DealerOn’s responsive website platform, Chameleon.