6 Reasons M-Dot Websites are Dead Ends
I'm passionate about the mobile web -- I use it every day to find my way around, shop, read the news, and keep up with my daily life. I flinch when I see sites that are breaking my user experience with unwise technology decisions.
One of the core beliefs of Mobify's philosophy is One Web – that websites should have one unified URL for a given piece of content for all devices: desktop, mobile, tablet and anything new that arrives in the future. In the early days of the mobile web, mobile-optimized websites redirected to an m-dot site – you visited mobify.com on an iPhone, you would automatically be redirected to m.mobify.com.
That was the first generation of technology for mobile websites. But m-dot websites come at a cost. Here are six things to think about if you're considering an M-dot site.
1. Redirects are not good for SEO
In June, Google stated that they prefer a single URL for your web content. Yes, you can use the canonical link tag. Google might respect it. It might not. The algorithm they use is known only to a few select engineers at Google. As they say in the fine print of the page "It's a hint".
With 3G latencies, you're looking at up to 2 seconds for the redirect to an m-dot to complete. The visitor to your mobile site will count this against you, which negatively affects their impression of your site and reduces the likelihood of them returning. With delays as small as 500 milliseconds resulting in a 1.9% conversion penalty, performance is money.
3. Subdomain Spaghetti
If your strategy is to serve a website for each device type, what will yo do for tablet optimization? And Smart-TV optimization? Or for the raft of new web enabled devices we’re going to see in 2013 – 2014? Managing the redirect mess is a house of cards that gets worse the higher you build it.
4. Social Media
Redirects and hardware-specific URLs and websites are the kiss of death for social sharing. If a visitor shares a link to your mobile m-dot website but their friends aren't on mobile devices, what happens? Desktop users will get the site designed for a 3.5 inch screen on their 24 inch monitors.
Email remains the killer application of the web. It's the #1 way we share content. We all use it, all the time. To make email links work across devices, they need to have the same URL or you end up in the same unescapable mobile dead-end world mentioned above with social media.
Every web resource should always live at one URL. This was Tim Berners-Lee's vision and it was a good one. It provides simplicity, search-ability and user-friendly behaviour that has enabled the web grow into what it is today.
It's a good principle to uphold. (Also, it's endorsed by Google.)
What can you do?
If you're considering launching an m-dot site, stop. There's no good reason to do it when you have so many options for doing mobile the right way.
Responsive design techniques can help you with a One Web approach if you're able to do a full site redesign. Add in Mobify's platform and open source, client-side adaptation framework for complete control over your website and its resources on any device – it's the result of our passion for the mobile web and strong beliefs about doing it right. Don't have the resources for a complete responsive redesign? No problem. Mobify's platform can make your website responsive to tablets and mobile devices at a fraction of the time it would take to build your responsive site from scratch.
Developers can try Mobify for free here.
If you're looking for a full service partner for your mobile and tablet experiences, please look at our service offerings and get in touch. We'll provide value for building your mobile strategy from the very first call.