Google, Bing and Yahoo apparently haven’t convinced brands they need to build separate Web sites for access from mobile devices, because some marketers still think about repurposing desktop Web sites through a technique called responsive Web design.
Responsive media, or Web design, means designing a Web site once, and formatting the content to accommodate access by multiple devices, from desktop to mobile. The technology isn’t new, but the concept of using one set of code to do multiple tasks has grown.
Through fluid grids, flexible layouts and media queries that allow designers to create specific layouts for devices, companies should be able to reformat desktop sites for access by mobile phone and tablet devices, according to Ethan Marcotte, a Boston-based Web designer and developer.
Despite the fact that big companies pull their weight behind parts — or all — of the concept, not all search engine optimization (SEO) experts agree. The theory makes content available from one site to everyone who accesses the content from any device. But the interest driven by a low-cost implementation and maintenance fees has its shortcomings, according to Bryson Meunier, director of content solutions at Resolution Media.
Some have called responsive web design a solution to the problem of mobile SEO, although Meunier believes a mobile first solution is more competitive in organic search.
Meunier said Marcotte never meant for responsive Web design to replace mobile sites. These sites should accommodate different goals from the user, and companies need to design Web sites that are specific to mobile. When it comes to search engine optimization, “if there’s a lot of additional mark-up on the site that needs to be suppressed to deliver the content users want to see, it will slow down the site and possibly deliver the wrong content,” he said.