People love their phones.
In fact, they love them so much and the ease of being able to whip it out of pocket for quick access to the web that it spawned a huge shift in the past couple of years.
Without a doubt, Google has seen this change and been a frontrunner in the push to create a mobile-friendly world.
In the flurry of their big push (affectionately called Mobilegeddon) most people talked about responsive design and the importance of switching to it because Google listed it as a way to make a site mobile-friendly.
But what few people know is that responsive design is not the only way to make a site mobile-friendly.
In fact, MarketingLand calls responsive design the, and I quote, “McDonald’s Cheeseburger of Mobile SEO”.
Quick and easy, but bad for you in the long run.
Adaptive Web Design: The Underdog (and Rising Star) of The Web Design World
In Google’s Developer blog, they list three configuration options they approve for mobile SEO.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the first one one the list. But second is Dynamic Serving, also widely known as Adaptive Web Design (AWD).
Both make your site mobile-friendly. And both get the Google stamp of approval. Since Google says both of these options are great, why are so few SEOs using it?
Well, part of it has to do with what was mentioned before. Responsive Design is the fastest, easiest fix for taking outdated sites into the new mobile era.
With 25 percent of the world powered by WordPress, theme developers the world over have updated their themes to be responsive. And there are WordPress plugins that allow you to simply download and activate a mobile version of a website without so much as a hiccup.
But does the easy choice automatically make it the best one?
How Adaptive Web Design Works and Why Google May Start To Push This Option
When Google first pushed for a mobile-friendly web, SEOs took their meaning at face value. You can get a “mobile-friendly” site by simply making a separate mobile version of a desktop site and calling it good.
Technically, this does the trick. Your site is mobile-friendly — for now.
As time goes on, how Google is now defining this term “mobile-friendly” should change your perspective on how to keep up with their line of thinking.
Mobile-friendly, has started to take on a meaning of making websites a pleasant experience for the end user.
While mobile websites and sites that are responsive do add a measure of ease for users, they don’t always add as much to the user experience as we might think.
But where these fall behind, adaptive web design (AWD) charged ahead. In essence, adaptive web design is like Responsive 2.0. The features of AWD make your site mobile-friendly, but it also gives you the ability to create sites that have users in mind.
As an example, let’s consider a landing page for a general contractor’s website.
In designing this, you know the opt-in form and a phone number are both very important for conversion for this particular client.
But if you’re building with responsive, all of that information will simply get squished and resized when seen on a mobile device.
And while you want this information there, the way it is displayed on a phone could significantly affect conversion rate.
Now, you could go in and tinker with a lot CSS on this page to make the mobile version of this page more user-friendly, but that’s a hassle and can bog down page speed. So ultimately, you have no choice but to leave it as is.
However, if you were using adaptive design, this scenario would play out differently. Adaptive design gives you the ability to edit your content based on the device it will be viewed on as opposed to just adjusting to the screen size.
So while you could design this client’s landing page with conversion in mind for desktop users, because of adaptive design, you can also easily tweak the mobile version of the same page to be better aligned with the mentality of a mobile viewer.
For instance, making a click-to-call button that easily stands out or rearranging the flow of the opt-in form so that filling out the information makes it looks less intimidating on a smaller screen.
It’s a small change that would go unnoticed to most, but to a trained eye like yours, you know the power these tweaks can have.
If an example like this doesn’t give enough evidence of why adaptive design out shoots responsive, then consider Google AdWord’s latest update.
The latest AdWords update now lets you divvy up ad spend across individual devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) to allow you to put money in the area that works best for your client.
For a contractor, this is likely split between mobile and desktop. But to really get the most of this feature, it would be best get each version of these landings pages right.
Therefore, editing the content by device (aka, using adaptive) gives you the most control and best chance of increasing conversions while keeping your client really happy.
Google will continue to lead the charge in getting the world to have user-friendly mobile interactions.
And while switching to responsive design gives a level of ease, adaptive design is proving it’s keeping in step with what Google really wants in terms of a mobile-friendly web.
A better user experience is something Google will continue to push. As we’ve seen in the examples above, adaptive is a great fit for creating better experiences.
While utilizing adaptive design can prove difficult for some, there are website building platforms that let you build your sites on an adaptive platform. This way you can offer more of what you want to do.
With adaptive design in your agencies arsenal, you can stay ahead of the curve and on the path that Google is already carving.