With more than 15 percent of Internet traffic being accessed by smart phone users, adapting websites to suit “small screen” technology is becoming an important aspect of website development. Mobile and responsive design websites are two ways to expand a business’ online presence to include mobile users. Both have major advantages for attracting more mobile users but choosing which design is right for a business can prove tricky.
A mobile website is a copy of an online website that is optimized to be viewed on a smart phone. It requires a second url to route mobile web traffic to its own site, often using m.domain.com. As it only requires distilling information in an existing site to provide better information for smart phone users, mobile web development is a more cost effective and less time-consuming website design option but it does require separate maintenance and updates from the original website.
A responsive website is a single website that adapts itself to all user devices, including smart phones. Responsive websites use a single url and customize the site based on screen size. Creating a responsive website design requires a complete overhaul of existing websites but produces consistency across all user devices.
Mobile users demand information quickly. Mobile website design focuses on paring down online information so it can be accessed at lightning fast speeds. By simply focusing on the smart phone user experience, mobile web design is optimized for small screen viewing. Increasing button size and producing forms that work with, rather than against, smart phone users leads to a better user experience though a mobile website.
Mobile websites require less upfront costs than responsive websites because they retool an existing site rather than overhaul the company's entire online presence. Since mobile websites require a second url to transmit information, maintenance and updates must be done on two separate sites. Mobile websites create the best experience for smart phone users but that benefit comes with significant maintenance cost in time spent updating information on two websites.
Responsive websites are more streamlined than their mobile counterparts. Rather than requiring two urls, responsive websites use one url to create an adaptable website that adjusts itself based on the user’s device. This makes maintenance and upkeep easier. Responsive websites also increase search engine rankings and allow you to manage tracking, payments, redirects, and advertisements more easily. This type of design comes at a higher cost than mobile website development because it essentially builds an online presence from scratch.
Responsive websites have the added endorsement of Google. The search giant considers responsive website design a best practice because it prevents user redirects and decreases glitches. Responsive websites also allow search engines to more efficiently crawl and index the site, as opposed to mobile websites which require merging of duplicate information. If your company wants to streamline its online presence to increase search rankings and decrease the potential for mistakes, then you may want to consider responsive website design.
Since mobile and responsive websites both have major advantages, choosing between the two can be difficult. Long term and short term benefits should come into play as well as budget and current online presence. Request a Free Assessment and we can help you determine the best course of action for your mobile web and responsive design solution. Ultimately, the decision to move forward to provide users with a mobile website or a responsive website must be made within the context of your company, your product or service and your marketplace.