There are currently two good options for websites to have mobile accessibility. The first one is to have one fully responsive site and the other one is to have own website for mobile users (m.example.com). Before deciding which one you should go for, consider the next subjects first.
One responsive web site
This is the number one choice of most websites these days. The simplicity of having only one website with only one content just makes it great choice for the majority of websites. If you don’t have plans to create content solely for mobile users, then this is your number one choice.
Of course responsive sites also have drawbacks. For example the idea is to build your styling on your site so that it scales to every possible device and browser variation available on the market. Or if you happen to start having mobile only content, you need to design a logic on your site how to show desktop or mobile content.
- Only one content to be written and administrated
- The design of the site has to scale to majority of devices and browsers
- How to show desktop or mobile content to different users?
- What about SEO, which one should you choose to show for Google?
Separate mobile site seems to be the choice of big companies such which probably suggests to the fact that it is more expensive to build separate mobile site. These sites usually work in m.example.com subdomain where they have their own life and most often somewhat different design from the main website.
Mobile only sites too have problems. When user is asked do they want to be connected to the mobile only site, users tend to feel that they these sites are somewhat narrowed down and not have all the functionalities which is often true. You just don’t have the resources to build as good site as your main page is. The content might be outdated or something is missing from the mobile site.
- Two contents to manage
- The design can be a bit simpler and not to scale as much
- You can show different content to desktop or mobile users
- SEOwise it is a great option if you have mobile only content
So, which one do I choose?
We still haven’t seen a site with d.example.com where you would have desktop only site in a subdomain. So choose fully responsive site or site with mobile subdomain.
If I had a website with content that was supposed to be seen only by the mobile users then I would go for the subdomain option. For example if you had a gaming site where the game client would be different for desktop and mobile then it would a great pain to make the users browsers to choose which one should it pick. You could enter into flickering site where mobile content would suddenly be shown or have to be waited with loading spinners spinning until the browser has made up its mind.
If I had a website with only one content, I would definitely go for one fully responsive site. There would be no point to create subdomain with the mobile site, since every website can be designed to mobile view, it can be a bit trouble for large sites but I think its worth it.
Make sure you choose this before starting your new website, other wise you could end up in a terrible mess. It is also a bit hard to change it when the project is ongoing.