I’ve talked before about the importance of a practice’s website being mobile friendly.
When speaking to new practices about website development, one of the most common questions we hear is: What is a mobile specific website, and should we have one?
What Is A Mobile Specific Website?
A mobile specific website is actually a separate website all together. They are often designed as a scaled down version of the primary website.
Mobile websites require their own domain. For example: mobile.obgynpractice.com. The site will know when a visitor is using a mobile device, and will move the user over to the mobile location.
The design of the mobile website is typically different than the primary website. It’s often “scaled down” and fairly plain looking.
Additionally, because they are separate websites, the functionality is usually different, and scaled down as well.
Disadvantages To A Mobile Specific Website
Mobile websites became popular when people began using smart phones for the first time (remember BlackBerry?).
Plus, creating a mobile website was less expensive than investing in a better designed, responsive website (more on responsive websites in a bit).
Today, having a mobile website is a pretty outdated strategy, and could actually hurt your local SEO making your practice harder to find online for new patients.
When a practice has a mobile website, Google treats these as two separate websites.
Often times, this causes organic search rankings for both websites to decline.
Maintenance and Support
Because a mobile website is separate from the main website, there are multiple code bases that need to be maintained.
Additionally, it’s more challenging to keep content consistent and up to date on both.
Obviously, this adds more time and expense for a developer to maintain. Not only that, but each new mobile device and mobile browser that comes out can cause the website to constantly need to be updated.
Inconsistent User Experiences
Because mobile websites are often scaled down, users need to learn how to navigate multiple websites and interfaces to accomplish the same thing.
With millennials making up a significant percentage of ObGyn patients in any practice, having a negative experience online will often cause them to move on to another practice that “gets it.”
Responsive Website For The Win
The solution both from an administrator and patient’s point of view is to have a responsive website.
With responsive websites, the user’s experience is always the same.
This happens because the website’s code uses “media queries” to generate the proper display for each device, whether desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Responsive Websites Are Better For SEO
Because Google is only indexing one website, a responsive website is much better to accomplish your local SEO goals.
Google has even come out and recommended responsive design for this reason.
Having a single website preserves a canonical URL (HTML element that helps website developers/webmasters prevent duplicate content).
This also helps patients share links from the website more easily.
Plus, having one website link structure will help maintain consistency with backlinks.
Because Google now indexes websites mobile first, having a great responsive website is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have” for all practices.