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Responsive Web Design Alternatives; Insights on Mobile Design & SEO

Last week, we talked about responsive web design and what it could mean for your SEO campaign. Now, we’ll delve into responsive web design a little more with some examples – and, for those who aren’t yet equipped to provide it, explore the alternatives to responsive web design.

Examples of Responsive Web Design

Although many enterprises have used responsive web design on their mobile sites, a few of them have managed to stand out more than others. One of the most famous examples of responsive web design is go to the site, re-size your browser window and take note that the website will automatically adjust to the current width of your browser. This is a great example of what responsive web design can do for the visitor experience. Other institutions with good examples of responsive web design for mobile viewing are UC San Diego and Smashing Magazine. Check them out; they’re impressive!

Alternatives to Responsive Web Design

It may be the practice du jour to enhance the mobile and tablet user experience, but responsive web design may not be the answer for everyone. If for some reason you can’t, don’t want to or are not equipped to build mobile sites with responsive web design, the alternatives are:

A separate mobile site: Often hosted on the “m.” sub-domain, mobile sites are typically developed from scratch. Visitors will redirect to the mobile site after the server detects that their user-agent is a smartphone.

Don’t know what your user-agent is? For reference, here’s the user-agent of an iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5

Having a separate mobile site is a fine alternative if you are unable to use responsive web design. It can still be crawled by search engines, which means your mobile web design and SEO will still work hand-in-hand.

Mobile apps: Another alternative to responsive web design is to develop mobile apps. While mobile apps are the preference for controlling the user experience and taking advantage of the hardware capabilities of smartphones, they are expensive to develop; plus, they are not part of the “open web.” What’s wrong with that? Apps are impossible for search engines to crawl, which means that your web design and SEO will not work together if your only mobile presence is an app.

As we come across them, we will gladly share more examples of responsive web design; and if any other alternatives to responsive web design become evident, we will examine those as well. In the meantime, keep exploring this next-generation mobile web design concept.

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