More and more companies have invested in mobile web design because of Google’s changes from April regarding the advantage of mobile-friendly websites in terms of mobile search ranking. It’s generally a good idea to have a mobile-friendly version of your site if more than 25% of your page visits come from mobile devices.
There are two major types of mobile-friendly designs to choose from: responsive and mobile. Although they are both mobile-compatible, they differ in terms of budget, flexibility, content, link equity and more:
- When accessing a link from a mobile device, the link automatically redirects you to either the mobile-friendly layout of a responsive design site or to the mobile (e.g. m.domain.com) site. Alternatively, the link opens the desktop-oriented website that’s not optimized for mobile viewing.
- Responsive designs make websites compatible with devices of all sizes and layouts (PCs, iMacs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.). Thus, a responsive design website changes its layout and width according to the screen size and orientation of the device you are using.
- Unlike responsive design sites, a mobile site is specifically created to be viewed on mobile devices, although they work on any device. A mobile site’s content is simplified, so as to provide a more streamlined user experience on small screens.
- Another difference between responsive and mobile is that the mobile site requires a different domain, such as m.domain.com. This can increase the efforts put into maintaining the site, since there are two separate ones.
- A different domain can affect the link equity in that links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity toward your main site. In this respect, the responsive design is better, since it lets you keep your primary domain, simplifying the sharing of web addresses.
- Being an all-in-one site instead of two separate sites (with double the costs and efforts), a responsive website is more budget-friendly and easier to manage. However, it can cost more to implement depending on the size of the site and amount of content.
- In contrast with a mobile site, modern responsive design sites are not supported by several older browser versions. In addition, a responsive site may be less optimized for mobile and slow loading times, unlike a mobile site.
- Responsive sites tend to be more future-ready than mobile sites, since they contain more forward-thinking technology intended for both present and next year’s devices. From this perspective, responsive sites are the better investment.
Choosing a responsive or a mobile website depends largely on your own needs. Responsive designs tend to be favored at the moment thanks to their cross-platform compatibility and ease of maintenance. If you already have a mobile site that works successfully, though, there’s no need to invest in a responsive site for now, unless you want a better display for tablets, too.
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