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Responsive Design vs. Mobile Sites (Part 1)

Responsive Design vs. Mobile Sites (Part 1)

Article published: 01 October 2013

It's one of the main digital debates raging in the automotive community at the moment - is responsive web design the best solution for a car dealer website, or is a dedicated mobile site better? Part 1 clears up some of the jargon for you.

You've probably heard all the stats – that mobile/tablet traffic currently accounts for an average of 30-40% of a car dealer’s total website traffic, and of course that Google thinks that it will be more like 50% by the end of 2014. You've heard the debate too, no doubt, about whether a dedicated mobile website is the best option, or if responsive web design is the way forward.

The question is, how do you work out the facts from the fiction? How do you decide what will be best for you?

This series of articles aim to clear up the mystery and instead provide you with clear, easy-to-understand explanations, so that you can make your own decision about which direction you want your website to go in. After all, we can supply both options to your dealership – so as always we can be transparent and honest.

For the first article, let’s address a little of the jargon:

Mobile devices

The line has become a little blurred with all the new mobile devices being released every day, but when we talk about mobile devices we can mean a range of different things. There are mobile phones (the simplest devices that don’t do much more than call and text), Smart phones (which let you access the internet and essentially run your life from the palm of your hand, in various levels of complexity) and tablets (generally without the ability to call people, and most of the time bigger than Smart phones). And everything in-between, of course!

It’s also worth bearing in mind that this market is always changing. Samsung have just released a phone/watch hybrid, Google are working furiously on “Google Glass”, and Smart TVs mean that even your television will be connected in the future. Oh, and let’s not even talk about connected cars and what that will mean for the digital marketplace.

What is Responsive web design?

Responsive websites are sites that re-size and re-arrange based on the size of the browser (internet window) that you are viewing them in. So they’ll show a different layout on a mobile to on a tablet to on a widescreen desktop computer. To see what a responsive site looks like simply take this website and resize the window you’re viewing it in – the menu will change, the banners, and the layout (it’s especially easy to see the changes on the homepage). It’s one website – you’re not redirected to a different URL – but it optimises itself for every size and device. That’s responsive!

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is pretty much what it says on the tin – a separate, different website, usually on a different URL (i.e. that you are redirected to if the website detects that you are visiting it on your smart phone. Generally, although not always, tablet traffic will be directed to the main website, as the screen is that much bigger. Typically mobile websites have a completely separate set of content, and will contain a reduced amount of functionality in comparison to the full desktop site. For car dealers this often covers used cars, locations, contact options and maybe a few other pages.

Join us next time for Part 2: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mobile Websites and Responsive Design

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