From a Google SEO perspective, I don't think it matters as long as you handle the redirects correctly when you address googlebot and googlebot-mobile.
That said, the use of an m.example.com is becoming very common for major sites. I think that's the approach I would use.
|That said, the use of an m.example.com is becoming very common for major sites. I think that's the approach I would use. |
I agree, I have three .mobi sites and even though their addresses are shown on every page of their applicable regular sites no one seems to want to use them preferring to view the regular sites and scrolling back and forth.
If it were not for the brand protection I would dump them!
I used m.example.com, it worked out well. Just moved that site to WP though, so now I'm using a plugin that does it all with CSS. I like that approach because it gives the mobile user the choice between the mobile version or the full version.
I spent months asking everyone I could think of whether it was better to force mobile users to a mobile site via a browser detect, and got just about 50/50 results between people who loved it and hated it. So this way, at least they get a choice.
|Just moved that site to WP though, so now I'm using a plugin that does it all with CSS. |
Which one are you using since there seem to be several available?
WP-Touch Pro (paid version) I tested it out with the free version first to make sure it worked ok.
Thanks, that looks very interesting especially the unlimited developer licence.
OK thanks for the replies everyone, valuable stuff. Will digest and then get cracking!
Honestly, I'd wait a bit until Google clarifies if you should have your mobile site on a new domain or same domain.
Personally, it bugs me to see people not use useragent detection to serve up a new style sheet for a mobile site, as opposed to redirecting mobile users to a m.domain or .mobi site.
I don't see why that is necessary.
I suspect Google will be clarifying in the upcoming weeks.
As expected, you can read Google's official guide on this topic at [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]
This was just published this morning...
My 2 cents worth.
First of, I understand that many or all of my peers will simple think I am an idiot, but hear goes:
Last Q of 2010, more smart phones than computers were shipped. In less than 2 years there will be more smart phones than internet connected computers.
I believe that a sites <strong>principal</strong> design should be prepared for mobiles. If your site is not, I believe you will lose the wave.
What does this mean for design, well for me its a single column layout thank you very much.
Lets the criticism begin!
I sort of agree but mobile resolutions are trending upward so fast that they're pretty much already at the same point we were at only a few years ago with small crappy screens, particularly laptops - think 800x600px or even 640x480px.
So by the time they absolutely can't be ignored, really you don't need to drastically change your site's layout, unless you really are now aiming it at 1920x1200px, LOL. A bit of CSS styling maybe to slightly reduce the sizing of fonts and other elements, and to maybe 'columnize' layouts, is all that should be needed.
I frequently get frustrated with the mobile versions of sites just being crippled versions of their main sites, obviously with good intentions, but I don't want my mobile to mean I get 1/10th the content.
OddDog is completely right. Your main site should be as mobile friendly as possible.
Giving the users a choice on every page to revert back to standard is a must. You don't want to tick off visitors because your mobile page was not enough and you don't let them switch back. I've have so many dead ends on mobile sites it is annoying. I don't go back to those sites.
The worst is when sites auto redirect you to their mobile site but the page does not exist. And there is no option to view it on their regular site. You can even manually change the URL because they keep redirecting you to a page that does not exist.
So be warned. There is a lot to design into a mobile site. I live them when they are done right. When done wrong they can be a brand killer.
Btw- Brett- when can we see a mobile version of WebmasterWorld? The width/font of the threads on this site is awfully hard to read on my iPhone. It seems to use a fixed width which does not allow the font size to scale!
How Mobile-Friendly is your site?
W3C mobileOK Checker
Is your Web site mobile-friendly?
Mobile will force many to start looking at validation and the use of proper markup. :)
In regards to the topic, personally I think quite a few will be relegated to using the m.example.com or example.com/m/ route due to the limitations of their platform.
Being able to serve stylesheets based on the UA seems like a much more efficient way to keep everything under one roof - One Funnel.
Let me rephrase. Your main site should be as mobile friendly as possible, but a single column design will limit what you can do with the layout. What's better is to offer a clean site with links to the mobile version well displayed, making it easy for users to switch, and not limiting the functionality of your main site for non mobile users. A tight balancing game is required. You want those mobile users off the main site as quickly as possible.
Not against automated redirections, but for larger devices such as tablets, they may be a problem. Tablet users don't need to be redirected. However I still believe a dedicated mobile site is required for smartphones.
<quote>a single column design will limit what you can do with the layout.</quote>
I agree. It is limiting. Reminds me of the old days, of 800*600 !
As a heavy iphone/ipad navegator, I just see how single column works.
I sort of agree with @maximillianos... It's a real pain to poke in all the @media declarations for mobile devices, but worth a try, if nothing else but for entertainment, perhaps. One has to deal with not only various resolutions but also (on some devices) on-portrait and on-landscape! Best to leave a choice.
Single-column has been the easiest (a cop-out) for me, with large, collapsing/expanding menu bars a la Google mobile. But that's rather annoying for e.g. iPad users: they need a choice.
I think OddDog is correct. There are a ton of smartphones out there. Most people are making the change if they use their phones to browse the web. I bet in another two years or so, you won't even need a mobile site. In the mean time, I think the best approach is to make your main site mobile friendly. If you do create a m.example version, give the user an option to view the full version.
Remember when we used to serve a different stylesheet for printing? Same premise, maybe just a little more CSS involved. Heck, I've used a stylesheet switcher for years which allows users to increase the font sizing within documents. I've also experimented with usability stylesheets for those with color blindness. Its a piece of cake, don't over engineer the process if you don't have to. :)
The goal is to keep your content all under one roof. No need to start another site just for mobile if you can use a separate stylesheet served based on the UA. I'd like to think you don't want to fragment the content. People will visit and bookmark the same pages from your site when using a stylesheet to serve mobile content. Things will be a little different if they are visiting and bookmarking m.example.com or example.com/m/. Remember - One Funnel.
I have become a believer in the Luke Wroblewski approach of designing 'up' from the mobile version.
It is an interesting approach starting with the greatest constraints and then loosening as possible. It also ensures the least problems: in display, in load time, in ease of use, in function, etc.
As small mobile screens are now outselling larger desktop screens designing for mobile is increasingly designing for the customer. Granted, a mobile first redesign is not something to be undertaken lightly; however, for new sites it is, in my mind, now best practice.
I agree with pageoneresults:
|The goal is to keep your content all under one roof. No need to start another site just for mobile if you can use a separate stylesheet served based on the UA. I'd like to think you don't want to fragment the content. People will visit and bookmark the same pages from your site when using a stylesheet to serve mobile content. Things will be a little different if they are visiting and bookmarking m.example.com or example.com/m/. Remember - One Funnel |
CSS3 Media Queries are a webdev's new best friend for cross-device site building.
|What does this mean for design, well for me its a single column layout thank you very much. |
I wanted to comment specifically on this. I typically design documents in sections. Each of those sections is positioned accordingly. Some are absolute, some are relative. Serving multiple stylesheets based on media makes it easy for me to take the main stylesheet, make a few adjustments and have a totally different layout without changing existing markup. You can serve different images, change widths and heights, overall layout, etc.
You could easily take a 2, 3 or even 5 column layout and convert it to mobile friendly (visually) with just a few simple changes to the main stylesheet. You position the document sections to best serve your visitors. Since I work with Source Ordered Content, I've found the conversion for different media to be a rather simple process.
Again, all you do is take the main stylesheet, copy it, and make your revisions from there. You can hide specific content, you can move stuff around easily, you are not constrained by layout at all. Think of your document in sections that can be positioned anywhere you want them to be with the switch of a stylesheet.
I just can't see going through all the maintenance that would be involved in serving a different site under another host name or at the directory level. There's a risk that one day someone will accidentally remove the noindex, nofollow and next thing you know you're battling with duplicate content. And then you'll have folks linking to that content and I don't think you want to split your equity in that manner - do you?
Well I'm liking the plugin I'm using on my WP sites; it takes out the sidebars. So, since I know that, I don't put anything abso-freakin'-lutely necessary in the sidebars.
I went back and forth, but I've come around to the point of view of best to show it on the same domain, and use a style sheet. AND give the users the choice of which they want to see.
This reminds me of the old 640x480 issue, when we all had to figure out how long we were going to keep designing for ancient screen resolutions. I'm tending towards just focusing on smartphones at this point.
(Don't even get me started on mobile validation, the standards are pretty nigh unto impossible. I haven't even looked. I'm not getting all pageoneresults about it this year)
All this talk of (re)designing for mobile is missing one important point: Smartphones are getting better and better at viewing the real web. A year or two from now the majority of mobile users are going to be able to visit websites intended for desktop users with little to no inconvenience.
Even now, I choose the regular version of most websites when browsing from my phone, almost no side scrolling necessary.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't be using CSS to create a more mobile friendly version of sites, but the importance of creating separate content for mobile users has been over exaggerated since the days of WAP and WML.
Whatever you do, no not use browser detection to force people to a mobile site without a way to choose the regular site immediately available.
|A year or two from now the majority of mobile users are going to be able to visit websites intended for desktop users with little to no inconvenience. |
Agreed, which is why the style sheet is the easiest way to solve the immediate problem.
I have a few questions:
1. If I run one URL and not a sub-domain. Do you run one version of the content and style it based on mobile vs normail users ?
2. IF I run mobile.domain.com and redirect using google bot mobile, will it be seen as a duplicate content issue?
3. What's the best approach sub-domain or same page?
Are you using AdSense on this? If so which. normal or mobile?
I'm going to use the Custom configuration and rotate between AdSense (mobile) and Admob, which I just signed up for, to see which one performs better.
pageoneresults - I checked one of our sites on the mobile checker that you shared and was shocked to see a big fat ZERO. But on my Android the site works reasonably well.
I am comforted by this one line by Danny Sullivan:
Google said they “expect smartphones to handle desktop experience content so there is no real need for mobile-specific effort from webmasters"
|I checked one of our sites on the mobile checker that you shared and was shocked to see a big fat ZERO. |
Ya, that tool is very strict. It has to be because of the multitude of devices that may be used to view a document on the web. While it may work fine on your device, it may not work as well on another.
What's nice about the W3 mobile validator is that it will show you exactly what, why, and where there are challenges. It's a rather informative tool that will assist you in preparing your site for mobile users. Remember, much of that stuff that gets flagged can typically be dynamically changed (based on UA), revised, etc. to get as close as possible to that 100% compatibility score.
ZERO is not good. I find most sites to be in the 30-60% range. The two primary things to be concerned about are the functionality and the visual. Can a user complete the checkout process on their mobile device? Can they submit forms, interact with apps, etc?
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