Why Your Next Website Must be Responsive

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The prediction that mobile would take over the internet has finally come true. The majority of traffic to a car dealer’s website is now “mobile”. In the past, dealership website providers had evolved slowly, providing only mobile and desktop sites. In 2014, website providers are finally catching up to this trend—pitching Adaptive, Seamless, or Responsive technologies. There is a lack of education about what Responsive, Adaptive, and Seamless websites are, how they differ, and why Google has publicly endorsed Responsive Design as the appropriate approach.

A Responsive website automatically optimizes the layout and content of your website based on the size of the device (desktop, laptop, tablet, mini-tablet, phone, wearable device, etc). To see if your website is Responsive, go to your site and slowly shrink your browser. If the layout and display of the site changes as you shrink the browser, the website is probably Responsive.

Adaptive websites are generally limited to two or three layouts. They determine which version to display when the site loads, based on the device that is being used. Let me explain why DealerOn has invested months of time developing our new Responsive Platform—Chameleon (powered by TruResponse Technology).

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Better SEO

Google has officially taken the position [we] recommend responsive web design. Most traditional dealership websites use multiple versions (desktop and mobile) of the same page. For each page on these sites, the SEO and Inbound Link Equity are split between multiple URL’s—which can negatively impact organic search traffic. This can also lead to duplicate content issues for each version of the page if you are not following Google’s best practices (most dealers are not).

Responsive sites generally have faster load times, because unlike adaptive websites they don’t require redirects that tell the browser how to display the site. Faster load times improve SEO (Google has specifically cited load time as a factor in its algorithm).

Better User Experience/Conversion

Adaptive/Seamless websites rely on “User-Agent Detection“ to determine which version of the website to display. Here are three of Google’s stated reasons that User-Agent Detection can negatively impact conversion and user experience:

  1. It is dependent on the website provider to constantly update and optimize their site’s User Agent Table.
  2. User Agent mismatches—according to Google, a common mistake for sites is to inadvertently treat tablet devices as smartphones.
  3. Load times are generally slower than responsive websites.

Total Cost of Ownership

Traditional dealer websites have Desktop, Mobile, and in the best cases, Tablet-optimized versions. That means that every vendor you hire has to build two to three times the content to accommodate these versions. Your vendors will either charge you more or provide you less value.

Market Evolution

In Q1 2014, there are principally four main device sizes (Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, Phone) but the market continues to change at an increasingly rapid rate. There are already 5.5” and 5.9” LG phones slated for release in May 2014. The iPhone 6 is expected to include an even larger screen than the iPhone 5, so that Apple can compete with other larger phones like the HTC M8, Sony Xperia Z and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Responsive Design is the only solution that is already optimized for whatever consumer trends win out in the future.

At the end of the day, just as Google has recommended, every dealer should be moving to a responsive site. There is only one reason that your website provider would advocate anything else—they haven’t made the investment to build a responsive platform.

Michael Bowen


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