Responsive Websites vs. Mobile Websites

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: November 14th, 2016 | Updated: July 24th, 2019

Difference Between Responsive Websites and Mobile Websites

Mobilize Your Forces!

Google gets over 100 billion searches a month. 50% of those searches come from mobile devices. This doesn’t include searches made on devices with screens larger than 6 inches such as tablets.

Any business that is serious about digital marketing and growing leads, must understand by now that their content has to be visible on mobile devices. You are likely using one right now to read this! There is no longer a question of “should we?” create a site that is optimized for mobile users, but rather “how should we?”

One for all and all for one!

It is very important to have your website work smoothly when displayed on user’s devices. There are a multitude of sizes and aspect ratios of mobile devices. There are different browsers that process your content in their own ways. Having your website be “one size fits all” viewed in a consistent way across all channels, is a challenge.

If your site isn’t user friendly and visitors have to struggle to get to the information they need, they will bounce right off your site faster than a new version of anything by Microsoft needs a patch!

There are two basic ways to make your website work on mobile devices:

Responsive website – Layout and code your website to provide an optimal viewing experience for the user. Properly designed it will offer ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling working across a wide range of devices – from desktop to mobile phones.

Mobile website – Build a distinct website using a unique URL separate from your main site that is developed specifically for a fast user-friendly experience for the smaller screens of mobile devices.

A mobile site and a responsive website will both optimize your site to work on smaller screens. Both will provide simpler navigation and faster load times.

Here we will discuss the differences between the two – responsive websites and mobile-dedicated sites and discuss why it may be better to use a responsive website.

Mobile-Dedicated Sites

Mobile sites are designed specifically for mobile devices. They are built totally separate from the main site and have a unique URL (domain name), e.g. Basically, it is a copy of your main site – minus features that the developers decide won’t work well on mobile or only a small subset of the full-site.

For example, very large pictures or large file downloads may be left out. Intricate spreadsheets, comparison tables, and visualizations such as infographics that are difficult to rescale on small mobile screens may be left out. What works best is decided based on the experience of the developers and the goals of the content.

Improved Responsive Technology

However, as mobile development technology improves, sophisticated websites may be seen fully on mobile devices. A well-designed site may contain the same content and functionality as the desktop version, but the content and features are rearranged for mobile.

A mobile website (if developed properly) can detect which type of device is being used for viewing and provide the best experience based on the capabilities of the device.

Responsive Websites

Responsive sites are designed from the beginning to display properly on the multitude of devices with different screens. In responsive design, the server sends the same content to every device, but includes information that tells the mobile device how to display the pages on its screen.

The content adjusts automatically to the orientation (landscape or portrait) and the available screen size. The well-designed responsive website will automatically resize, hide, shrink, enlarge, or move the content to make it look good and make it easy to use, regardless of the devices screen.

For example, if some of your content is presented on the desktop version in three columns, the device will display it in one or two columns. If you have a horizontal navigation bar that can’t fit on the screen, the mobile device will display an icon that when clicked – shows a vertical version of the navigation.

Advantages of Responsive Design

A Single Domain

While a mobile site needs a different domain, responsive design allows you to have only one domain, the only thing that is different is the code on the back-end.

Improved SEO When there is a separate mobile domain, users searching for your main domain on a mobile device will be redirected to the mobile site, automatically. This can hurt traffic to your main domain.

Responsive web design helps SEO efforts by having all your visitors directed to a single site, no matter what device they are using. Another improvement, managing one SEO campaign is easier than managing two.

Less Work Having two websites to maintain, a desktop and a mobile website, makes twice as much work. If there are updates or changes that need to be made, then webmasters have to make changes on the desktop version and the mobile site.

One website costs less than two – Having one site that addresses the needs of all devices is less costly when compared to having two separate websites.

Works on current and future devices

Mobile dedicated sites are coded to work on existing phones, tablets and browsers, based on known devices particular format. Each known device type must have lines of code included in the sites development that deliver the content correctly to match screen size and orientation, and the capabilities of the device, which the server can detect.

Furthermore, different browsers will display a websites content in their own way, another layer of programming that needs to be considered.

While a mobile site can require updating to accommodate next generation devices, a responsive website will work on future devices – without any changes to the websites coding.

Choosing Responsive or Mobile-Dedicated

The best solution needs to take into account the user experience you want, your industry, and your budget. Every business should consider responsive design as an option as it saves time and resources while offering a great user experience.

Check out these links to learn more about responsive websites!

Responsive Web design: What is it, why you should invest in it?
Link to:

Why Mobile-friendly Websites Spell SEO Success
Link to:


Img c/o pixabay

Read more articles like this: , ,