Okay, first of let me make it clear that I’m not a website designer. I don’t design websites and I don’t create websites but I do work on websites all day that are designed and created by other people, what I do is ensure that the maximum number of people go to them and then take action once on the site.
Deciding whether to have a mobile or responsive website is a critical decision when you’re having a new one built, it also dramatically affects my ability to optimise the site to get it found on Google and also to optimise the site to increase conversions – so you need to get the decision right.
Responsive or Mobile websites?
This is the real hot one at the moment as more and more people decide that they want to have a mobile or response website, but what is the difference?
A mobile website is a separate website to your main one. There will be a little bit of code on the website which detects the device that is being used, if that code detects a mobile device then the user will be bounced off of your main website onto a mobile friendly one.
You effectively have two separate websites, one designed for a full screen and one designed for mobile devices.
A responsive website on the other hand is one single website. The website detects the screen width of the device being used and responds to this width. If it detects that a widescreen is being used such as a desktop then you will see the full site with all of its navigation, if it detects that a smaller screen is being used such as a tablet or phone then the site will show relevant navigation, shrink the images and show you content in a different format.
You only have one website which is responsive and modifies itself dependent upon the device it is being viewed upon.
How to test if your website is responsive
Of course, the simplest way is to look at your website on your mobile phone. But if you want to truly test if the website is responsive, you can actually test it live and see it respond as the screen resolution changes… Here’s how.
In your web browser you need to click the “Restore Down” button in the top right-hand corner of the browser.
This will then enable you to change size of the screen on your desktop. You can then grab and drag the width of the screen to make it smaller. If your website is truly responsive you should see the various elements on your website resize and then move around to fit the screen.
You should also see the menu go from the traditional desktop menu to a single button click menu suitable for a mobile phone. Here’s a little video which shows this in action.
The advantages of having a response website versus a mobile one.
The advantages are quite numerous:
- When you add content to your website, if your website is responsive you simply need to at least once. No matter whether your visitor is on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop your new content will look good. If you have a responsive site you need to add content twice, once to the desktop version and once to the mobile version.
- You suddenly have two websites to optimise. You may find that one website appears better than the other in mobile search results, if you have a single response website you only have one website to worry about.
- Your links may not work.You may be sending people into the middle of your website from around the web. For example, you may want to run a social media campaign on Facebook and place links to your Invisalign page. If someone clicks on this link from a mobile phone they will Land on your website, it will detect that they are on a mobile device and automatically send them to the homepage of a mobile website, not the Invisalign page that you intended, suddenly your website visitor is confused. With a responsive website, you can copy the web address from the desktop and it will work exactly the same on a mobile.
- Your search engine optimisation and inbound marketing may not be quite as good. Google recognises if your website is important if people are talking about it around the Internet. As those people talk about your website online they may be mentioning a specific page. You may have written some excellent information about dental implants which a patient of yours shares with their friend. If they share that page from a desktop but the friend is using a mobile, that link may not work if they are redirected to a mobile website. A responsive website uses exactly the same web address for mobile or desktop.
- You may keep costs down with a responsive site. If you pay for someone like me to optimise a site, get more people to it and more people converting then the fee is often lower for a responsive site. That person working their magic on your website only has one website to work on if it is responsive, if you have a mobile site also then they may need to work on two websites… Potentially doubling their fee!
- Your ongoing web design costs could be lower. Let’s say you take on a new treatment and want to add it to your website. If your site is responsive then you add the content once, if you have a mobile site then you need to pay your designer to add it to both websites!
In my experience of working with many websites the ones that are easiest to optimise (from both a search and conversion point of view) are responsive websites. There are so many advantages to responsive that, in my opinion, this is the way you should go if you’re looking at having a new website built.
So who would I recommend for your new responsive website?
There are plenty of people to choose from that are creating and designing websites for dentists, here is my recommendation based on the fact that I’ve worked with these guys on numerous projects and never had a problem. Listed in alphabetical order.
- Adam Hampson – H&P Design
- Krishan Joshi – Dental Focus
- Dean Leigh – Wholething
- Alex Nicolaou – Design4Dentists