Responsive web design is a much more efficient approach to mobile browsing than a separate domain name.
I really liked the idea of .mobi before it was launched. It was the only “new” top level domain that made sense to me.
The idea of creating a domain solely for mobile devices made a lot of sense because it served a function; it wasn’t just a label of the site’s content like many other top level domains. In many ways .mobi was prescient; mobile browsing was just about to take off when .mobi came out.
But there was a much simpler solution that offered a good browsing experience to mobile visitors without the need to remember a separate domain name. Automatic device and operating system recognition enables web publishers to easily shift a visitor to a mobile site. Let’s face it: .Mobi isn’t needed. Site visitors don’t need to know the URL of a company’s mobile site; they will be forwarded there when they type in the .com URL.
We’re currently experiencing the next phase of cross-browser web browsing…
A number of big sites are embracing responsive design. In a nutshell, a responsive web site automatically reshapes itself to display well in a browser window of any size. A good example is Mashable. If you go to Mashable and start resizing your web browser, you won’t see any horizontal scroll bars. Instead, the content will reformat to fit the screen.
It’s the same URL, you’re not even forwarded to a subdomain. It works in browsers of any size.
High quality responsive web design is now available to the masses. There are hundreds of responsive WordPress themes available for under $100 (or even free). I’m working on a responsive design for Domain Name Wire as we speak.
Responsive design makes the idea of a separate domain for a mobile site an even more antiquated idea than it already was.
Still, .mobi has been going strong. As of the end of January it had over a million registered domains.
Outside of GoDaddy, the biggest .mobi registrar is GMO Internet, which focuses on the Japanese market. A couple Chinese registrars are also in the top 10. There’s clearly still a market for .mobi, and perhaps it’s for the mobile-only market.
Yet I think it’s fair to say that a different domain name is not the most effective way of handling cross-browser web publishing.
rob sequin says
I know a responsive design coder and he does great work.
Interesting to see web pages just reformat themselves just by changing screen size.
I think it’s all natural, the WWW is a device-agonostic medum. We need an open Internet, not proprietary ecosystems and walled gardens 🙂
.mobi essentially breaks the WWW.
More fundamentally, the distinction between desktop and mobile had already began to blur when .mobi was released.
But maybe somebody will try again with .iphone, .tablet, .firefox or .handi (TLD for “accessible” websites) 🙂
Richard Rudy says
I always thought .mobi was a non-starter, between that and the m subdomains it was never really embraced as a standard. I also don’t really think responsive is a ‘thing.’ I think the web is just growing up as a medium and finally shedding it’s print mentality. The web was always responsive by nature, designers made it not responsive by worrying about viewports and pixel perfect mockups.
I use a .mobi domain to point to my contact page – sort of the idea behind .tel – so people can use it to contact me by phone or email. Not how it was originally envisioned, but it can be a good digital identity if you get a short, memorable name.
Responsive web designs and affordable templates are finally coming into the mainstream 6-7 years after the release of .mobi domains. Back in 2006 this was not really an available option.
Mobile website standards and aftermarket design options were just being fleshed out for the first several years of .mobi’s existance. It really was confusing. No need to limit oneself now. Smartly planned websites using a .mobi name are easier to launch now that they can be built to take advantage of the features of responsive web design.
One caveat though, bloated full size layouts do not always scale down nicely to easily usable narrow handheld viewing widths. Scrolling down through reformatted stacked columns of content on and on is not all that great a user experience.
Designing content for mobile users on at least part of a site may still be a preferable way to go. Using a separate .mobi domain for this purpose is still a viable option, especially if a great relevant descriptive keyword .mobi name is used.
Interestingly and something to watch, the number of .mobi registrations continues to grow steadily past 1 million current registrations. This is likely organic growth generated by end users. It is clear that the domainer community is not generally a fan of large scale investments in .mobi like those seen in the first several years of .mobi’s existence. But what domainers do in their own best interests and biases and what the “real world” does do not necessarily go hand in hand. The only thing that is sure is that things keep changing.