This is a common question, and a very important one in the world of dental web design. As you may be aware, mobile sites are a must have in 2015, and with mobile technology becoming so much more advanced, mobile websites are going to become much more valuable for your dental practice in the future.
There are a couple of ways to create a mobile website:
- use a responsive design
- create a new mobile website
I’ll explain them both below.
Method 1: Responsive Websites
Responsive websites are a relatively new brand of website technology, and they do just what they say: responsive websites respond to the users screen size, and adapt the design accordingly.
This is done by creating code to ensure that the website adapts to whatever size screen the user is visiting your site on.
- A desktop or laptop will show the full version of your website.
- An iPad (tablet) will show a slightly altered version of your website, in which certain elements may be replaced or adapted to fit the screen size
- A smart phone will show a version that is smaller still, and usually involved hiding elements, and replacing the desktop menu with a mobile menu (like our website).
This fluid version of your website will enable you to keep a fairly constant design, no matter what the size screen the visitor is using. The pros of using a responsive website design system on your dental website are:
- It’s easier to administer: you only have one website to update, rather than two (using method 2, explained below)
- A single URL: users can access your site straight away without waiting for pages to be redirected
- Easy SEO: concentrate all of your efforts onto one website
- Easier marketing: promoting one website, versus 2 (in method 2) is far easier for your marketing team
- Cheaper: building one website is cheaper than building 2
Of course, this wouldn’t be a balanced article without listing the cons of responsive design:
- A single website: in order to increase conversions to your dental practice, you may need to sacrifice, you will often need to put different emphasis on the same page
- Technology: Responsive design is fairly new, meaning that users with older devices may find that the site loads slower or not at all
- User Experience: Mobile is a completely different experience than desktop, so having a single, even responsive website, may harm your overall UX on both platforms. If you try to satisfy both mobile and desktop users with the same user interface, you may end up satisfying no one.
Some of the largest websites in the world rely on responsive website design. A good example to use is Mashable.com, the tech news website. It uses responsive design to offer the Mashable.com website to over 3.5million users every month.
Method 2: A Mobile Website
Method 2 involves creating a completely separate mobile website, which your users are redirected to if they visit the website on a mobile device. The best thing for a dentist using a completely separate mobile version of your website is that the mobile website is completely optimized for a mobile user. That means if the dentist has specific promotions, or wishes to enable a lead-capture form at the top of the website, this can be implemented into the mobile design, whilst your desktop design can be optimized specifically for desktop users.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using a website created specifically for mobile users. Pros:
- Optimal design & experience: as the website has been designed specifically for mobile use, the visitor will have a great user experience
- Speed: your mobile version will run and load faster
- Potentially improved lead ROI: a mobile user will be more inclined to fill out a form which is eye catching and well designed. Adapting lead generation forms to your mobile site may give an increase in leads received.
- Not universally compatible: it’s very difficult to design a mobile specific website to work effectively across all kinds of mobile devices. Touch screen phones will interact differently to keyboard-operated phones
- Multiple URLs: the mobile user will either have to be redirected to the mobile version, or they’ll have to remember the mobile URL
- SEO: you may have to spend extra time optimizing your mobile website for the search engines
- Cost: creating two separate websites will be more expensive
- Maintenance: maintaining two websites, and updating content across two sites will be more time consuming
In our experience, creating a mobile version of a website is something which should be avoided in most circumstances. The efficiency of responsive design technology, and the assurance that your website will look good on all devices, no matter what the screen size, are very important factors. The cost, which sometimes is the most important factor, is reduced, too which can only be a good thing.
DentalWebsiteDesign.com is in fact a responsive website, and will adapt to whatever screen size it is loaded on.
We have ensured that the most important parts of the website are still visible across various screen sizes, and it seems to be working well for us. We shall be delving into the world of mobile apps in another article.