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In October, 2013, I posted a controversial article about the differences between responsive and adaptive websites and came to the conclusion that, at that time, properly coded adaptive websites were performing better than responsive websites in the automotive arena. I stand by that assertion as long as the timestamp is attached. In other words, adaptive was better in the automotive industry than responsive in October, 2013.
Today, I am happily reversing my opinion. The industry has caught up. There are a handful of companies in our space that have not only improved on the earlier iterations that I did not like but who have taken their responsive sites beyond the adaptive sites that were performing phenomenally well. It's not that adaptive sites are bad or that they've fallen off at all. Today, the responsive sites (and the numbers attached to their results for dealers) have surpassed their adaptive counterparts.
The real difference in the platforms that I have seen launched in recent months compared to the original batch of automotive responsive website designers is that they seem to have followed (coincidentally, I'm sure) a different assertion I made a week after the original post that dealers and their vendors should build websites for mobile first. Mobile is today. It's getting bigger tomorrow.
Responsive websites that are built to accommodate the demands and limitations of mobile devices do not lose out on desktop functionality. If anything, today's savvy buyer has grown accustomed to a more mobile experience on their desktops and appreciate the simplicity that such design brings to the table.
I am dying to name some of the companies that I have looked at over the last few months that have impressed me with their designs and website management tools, but now is not the time. There are five strong responsive design firms that have impressed the heck out of me lately. Two are well known. Two are less known. One is pretty much unknown in the industry. I won't name them because I have yet to do a comprehensive review of everyone's platform. Considering that there are about 50 players in the automotive website arena, it's likely that I will never make it through them all.
In lieu of recommendations or direct endorsements, I'll keep it simple and show you what you should be considering...
There are plenty of other things that I could go into regarding what to look for in a responsive website design, but I'll leave it off where it is and add a single closing thought: a great adaptive website is still better than a good (or bad) responsive website. Let the numbers guide you in your decision. It's about getting leads and driving more people to your inventory both online and offline. Make sure that the experience they're receiving in their mobile exploration of your website is better than any of your competitors. It makes a difference.