Choosing Mobile Optimization: Mobile Websites Vs. Responsive Web Design

As the population continues to rely more and more on mobile devices for online searches and browsing, websites have responded in kind. Many sites now cater to mobile visitors so that it is easier for users to use and consume the content on the site. As you are probably aware, many sites that are not mobile-optimized can be difficult, if not impossible to use from your phone or tablet. This happens primarily because the site is not properly coded for mobile viewing. Over the course of the past few years, developers have come up with a few different solutions to address this. Utilizing responsive web design or building a mobile-friendly website in addition to your desktop site allows more people to engage with your content and information.

Similarities

The main goal is always to make your website more accessible on any kind of mobile device, without compromising appearance or interactivity. Both methods can be an effective way to achieve this goal, but their approach is very different. At a high level, responsive web design allows the site to be flexible with whatever screen the visitor is using. Responsive web design can adapt your website to whatever screen is being used, whether it is a four-inch mobile smart phone or a giant desktop computer screen. Having a mobile website in addition to your desktop site uses a different approach, redirecting your mobile visitors to a different subdomain or page (e.g. mobile.example.com or example.com/mobile/) that has been designed for a smaller screen or a specific mobile device. The mobile website often looks and behaves differently than the desktop website.

Differences

One of the biggest differences of responsive web design and mobile websites has to do with the maintenance of the website. Mobile websites, by their very nature, require you to have two separate websites. When a visitor arrives at your website, the site itself will determine what size browser or what type of mobile device that visitor is using and route them accordingly. The downside to this is the fact that you now have two websites that must be maintained. If any changes are applied to one website, both must be altered.

New Devices

Additionally, when new mobile devices come out, your mobile website will have to be changed or upgraded to adapt to new devices and/or screen sizes. While a website that uses responsive web design will still need to be upgraded from time to time to allow for new technology, the changes will only need to be made once. Responsive web design takes screen size into account from the point at which the website is rendered, and adapts the display automatically to fit the screen. This takes place for every visitor upon their arrival so that new devices or screen sizes will always work. More importantly, this means that you will only need to build and maintain one website.

SEO

It is well-known that the developers at Google prefer responsive websites to mobile sites. While the jury is still out on how much this impacts rankings, we believe that this factor will only continue to grow in the coming months. The main reasons that Google loves responsive websites are the same reasons why small businesses love it—a responsive website works on all devices and doesn’t require you to maintain two websites. We love responsive websites because having only one website allows you to focus all of your SEO work on a single site, increasing its effectiveness. Another problem with maintaining more than one website is the struggle to make them work together without conflict or errors. Having two websites is twice the work, after all, especially when they are meant to work in tandem. Responsive web design allows you to focus all your time and energy on a single website.

User Experience

The key factor here is that there are more mobile devices in the world than ever, and they all have different screen sizes. A mobile website cannot cater to all of the mobile devices and tablets in the world, which means that some users will be unable to access your website, or at the very least have a difficult time engaging with it. For example, a mobile website may display well on certain mobile phones but display incorrectly on a tablet or small laptop. A responsive website doesn’t have this problem, as it adapts to all screen sizes automatically.

Responsive Website Design For The Win

At 33 Mile Radius, we believe that responsive website design is the best design method for a strong, effective web-browsing experience. Responsive website design allows for a flexibility and ease of use that you just can’t get with separate mobile websites. technology is always changing, which necessitates constant maintenance of separate desktop and mobile sites just to keep up. Instead of playing cat and mouse, responsive websites will be ready for any changes that come your way. We believe that search engines are already paying attention to this dilemma, and will soon favor responsive websites over separate, static, websites. The face of the internet is constantly changing, and if you haven’t already made the leap to responsive website design, now is a good time to get on board.

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