The Difference between a Mobile Site and a Responsive Site

Mobile and responsive designs have been the talk of web designers and marketers for years. In April of 2015, Google made mobile-friendliness an official ranking factor in its search algorithm to encourage websites to use mobile or responsive design.

And while mobile and responsive design may sound interchangeable, they’re very different.

This page explains the difference between mobile site and responsive site design and usability. It also offers some guidance on how to choose the best option for your business.

Keep reading to learn more, and give us a call at 888-601-5359!

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How do mobile sites work?

Mobile sites are specifically designed for smartphones, tablets, and other hand-held devices. These sites are made to work on small screens with quick load times and clear contact information to encourage users to contact the company as quickly as possible.

On the one hand, mobile sites are valuable because they allow people to conveniently engage with your business when they’re on the go. And in general, people are using mobile devices more to find the information they want online.

But on the other hand, mobile sites won’t always look correct on desktop or laptop computers. After all, they’re made for small screens, so when they’re expanded, there will be some inconsistencies with how the site looks on smartphones and how it looks on desktops.

Plus, the compact, efficient design of a mobile-only site limits your potential to use multimedia, high-res photos, and other engaging site elements. And, worst of all, your mobile site will have a different URL from your regular site, meaning it’s possible that you could start competing with yourself for valuable keywords.

If the wrong site shows up for the wrong person’s device, they won’t have the quality experience they need to become your customer.

How do responsive sites work?

Responsive sites are designed to work on any size screen and device, from the biggest desktops to the smallest smartphones. Instead of creating different layouts to fit different sizes and resolutions, responsive sites check the size of the device and adjust themselves automatically to fit.

The ability to adapt to different devices is a tremendous advantage since there are so many screen sizes in the world. People can visit your site from anywhere and get a consistent experience every time. This is a great benefit for your SEO strategy, too, since you only use one URL to provide the same experience to every site visitor.

However, responsive sites have their downsides.

For one, you have to find a layout for your site that works well for both desktops and mobile devices, and that’s not easy. On top of that, your site can’t use lots of multimedia, high-res images, or other engaging elements since they could make the site load slowly on mobile. Last, responsive design doesn’t happen overnight — it takes a lot of time, testing, and up-front expense to get a responsive site working properly.

What kind of website is better?

In the battle between responsive and mobile sites, the winner is whichever site works best for your business.

A mobile site is better if:

1. Your customers mostly use mobile devices. At this point, smartphones and tablets are standard tools for communication. If your customers show a heavy bias towards mobile devices, you’re probably safe to use a mobile site.

2. Your budget is limited. While mobile sites aren’t cheap, they don’t require as much money or testing as responsive sites. So if your budget is a little tight, and you don’t think you’ll need responsive design in the future, go with a mobile site for your company.

On the other hand, a responsive site is better if:

3. You regularly update your site. If you don’t have a way to quickly update your mobile and desktop sites at the same time, responsive design is your solution. Whether you’re adding new pages or creating blog posts, regular updates are just easier when you have a responsive site.

4. You’re redesigning your site. As your site gets older and harder to manage, it might be easier to start from scratch. And if you’re going back to the drawing board, you might as well make one site that can work on any device in the world!

With all of these qualities in mind, you can quickly choose whether you want to use a mobile or responsive site for your business.

WebFX works with mobile and responsive sites

At WebFX, we’ve worked with mobile and responsive websites for years. Our large team of expert developers know exactly how to make a website display properly on virtually any device, and they’ve created award-winning sites for our clients. Now, we’ll make your business a site that’ll work on any device!

Contact us today to create a mobile or responsive site strategy for your company!