Are you a ‘responsive bandwagoneer’?

To be or not to be – responsive or not…. Should responsive (adaptive) web design be the standard even when there may be user experience reasons to go with alternative web design standards?

Surprisingly, not many businesses (or their agencies…) know the answer and instead there seems to be a ‘sheep’ mentality where many jump on the band-wagon (or off the cliff!) of developing a responsive or adaptive site without really understanding if its the best approach for their business.

Fundamentally, I believe there are two important areas that should first be considered before the development of mobile for your brand; data and content.

Data, or rather the insights the data provides, will provide crucial information about how your customers or prospects are using your website and mobile site (if you have one in place) for content requirements; device and OS segmentation, location etc.  A site audit will provide you with this information.  The insights of such an audit may reveal that you require a phased approach to a longer term optimised web and mobile solution as the current web IA (information architecture) may have fundamental UX issues for example.

Content, whilst we know is a key area tend to overlook the importance.  Typically what information are customers expecting when they use different devices.  If they want in-depth information from your website but their mobile consumption is more about location based services or specific information or transacting, then rendering web content to a mobile request may not be appropriate and will only serve to irritate them as they have to scroll down until they find what they are looking for.

Looking at these two areas will already begin to point the way to the preferred solution for your customers with one of following 3 mobile SEO solutions:

Dynamic Serving, Responsive Web Design and Mobile URLs.

It must be emphasised, the argument of single URL vs multiple URLs is now redundant with Google introducing switchboard tags (Google can understand which site should appear when regardless of  URL site structure) therefore responsive web design should not be championed because the assumption is that its better for SEO!

Adapted from mobile specialist Bryson Meunier, the following give you a guideline as to whether mobile URLs or dynamic serving are preferred options to responsive web design:

1.  When the desktop doesn’t contain categories mobile searchers are looking for e.g. specific model types

2. When the desktop site doesn’t contain keywords mobile searchers are using e.g. you mobile searches may use the term ‘nearby’ which is less likely on laptop which doesn’t have GPRS

3. When responsive web design increases load time significantly

4. When target audience primarily use feature phones or when specific mobile features are required to complete task e.g. scanning or camera

5. When it prevents innovation that improves the user experience e.g. J P Morgan Chase mobile solution

The following chart from Bryson Meunier clearly visualises this:

The ideal mobile solution is a hybrid of responsive web design and mobile only pages, but that’s ideal not necessarily what’s best for your business.  So, do you know which of the three your business has developed and if so is it the best for your customers?

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Do manufacturers, Dealers or service providers know what 60% of new car buyers want?

emarketer recently published a very interesting article on the importance and impact in-media will have on buyers purchase decisions. According to a Harris Interactive poll nearly 60% of car owners said in-car connectivity will have some or a great deal of influence on their next vehicle purchase and 67% for 18 to 35 year olds!

This range of in-car connectivity, also referred to as telematics, ranges from the expected  maps, music and voice communications, to browsing the internet and watching streaming video.  Interestingly, services that read news updates, permit social media interaction or deliver on-demand content already exist. Will this evolution in telematics lead to design innovation.  A single point for plug and play for multiple devices, where one could possibly use their tablet as a dashboard?

As these advanced in-car media options become increasingly important I imagine there will be a foray of new providers in the value chain to deliver these advanced media options.  Owning and managing data will become paramount especially as marketing pathways to influencing customers will evolve.  It will be interesting as to who ‘owns’ the customer relationship as boundaries become blurred; the OEM, the Dealer, the media provider or other Tier 3 service providers.  The question does arise as to whether brands with better relationships with their Dealers will have an advantage because of the assumed sharing of information and data?  Will OEMs become selective in choosing their 3rd party suppliers especially those who work with their Dealernetwork with the additional Tier 1 services they provide their Dealernetwork providing valuable data intelligence and influence?

These changes are not far off but in the short term there is a significant amount that can be done to improve the customer digital experience; from optimised OEM websites with car configurators that provide an enhanced user experience to Dealer Marketing Websites which provide a consistent brand and user experience to the OEM whilst still providing differentiation for the Dealer.  A recent project I was involved in required a review of user experience of luxury OEM manufacturer and dealer websites and the results were shocking with the majority showing they provided average to poor user experience.  Not really acceptable in this post-PC era.  Sadly, most also used responsive design as a band aid to an optimised mobile experience.      A well optimised website is the hub for developing an effective digital experience integrating across all channels.

Need some advice in creating or enhancing your digital strategy?

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