Responsive Design vs. Mobile Sites
Both are examples of some of the latest and greatest evolutions in web technology. Both allow your custom website to be viewed from phones and tablets. So just what are the differences, and why do they matter so much? Today, we'd like to provide you with an honest assessment of the pros and cons of Responsive Design technology & Mobile Site technology, and why we ultimately came to value (and recommend) one above the other.
Broken down simply, a Mobile Site is essentially a second version of your site, separate from the original, with it's own url and codebase, designed specifically for mobile users.
By contrast, if you're using Responsive Design, you're using a single website with special coding in the backend that allows it to automatically fit the dimensions of the viewing device.
For an example of responsive design in action, shrink this here window down to the size of a phone or tablet, and watch as our HDM custom website alters itself automatically to fit.
The User Experience
At this point in the game, this is mobile site technology's primary proficiency. Because it is essentially a second, reanimated site, designed specifically for mobile use, the developer of the site can fine-tune it to create a unique viewing experience. A custom website using responsive design will look and operate the same as your desktop site, only a little smaller.
For this reason alone, some businesses may prefer a mobile site. However, for our two cents, this single benefit of mobile sites is not worth the trouble, as we'll discover in the following paragraphs.
Updates & Maintenance
When it comes to maintaining your site, Responsive Design is hands-down the better option, ultimately cutting costs and manpower. A mobile site is an entirely separate set of programming and content. Thus, you'll essentially be forced to manage two websites instead of one, giving way to unnecessary hassles in the face of minor updates, and the risk of great inconsistencies. A responsive design website utilizes only one codebase.
Furthermore, because of rapidly evolving mobile technology, there's a good chance your mobile site will have to be completely redesigned every time a new phone or tablet hits the market. Responsive Design is much more flexible, and will thus be relevant for years to come.
Search Engine Optimization
When browsing the Internet on a mobile device, if you type in the url of a certain site, you'll be redirected to a different url (usually m.domain.com). With Responsive Design, you keep the same domain at all times. According to Google, for this reason, Responsive Design is more well-suited to SEO endeavors: ...Maintaining a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoiding any complicated redirects, and simplifies the sharing of web addresses...
Moreover, a large part of gaining a foothold among search engines is link building. In terms of SEO, we think of links as votes, and the website with more votes is inevitably more popular. This is true of the many links on your site that allow navigation. Therefore, your link equity will not carry over from your original site to your mobile site. With responsive design, you do not forfeit any progress.
For the most part, you may as well consider the mobile site an obsolete technology, the presence of which will likely diminish in coming years. As you move forward with your business, we think it wise to choose the technology that will not require new programming on new devices. You'll save money in the long run, minimize unnecessary labor, and have more success with search engines.
Whether building a new custom website, or converting your old one, pursuing responsive design is as simple as clicking a button. Click here to Contact Us today.
To learn more about the topic, check out our recent post explaining the details of Custom Websites With Responsive Design.