What is a mobile website and responsive design?

Mobile design vs. responsive design: do you know the difference?

The web design team at Gainesville Marketing meets with clients who often ask similar questions. One that hear again and again is whether there is a difference between responsive website designs and mobile website design, and which one is better.

Mobile website designs are those that are optimized to be viewed on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These sites rely on certain features to increase user interaction and improve user experience. A lot of companies now offer a mobile website version of their full website in order to accommodate the increasing number of users who prefer to browse, shop, bank, check email and interact online via mobile devices.

Responsive designs are incorporated into full websites so that they can be viewed on any device without sacrificing content. These sites are created on a type of template that detects the size and shape of the screen. As the browser window changes, the layout of the web page changes to accommodate smaller or larger screens in a way that is still easy to read.

Mobile Website Design

Due to the increase of mobile device users, businesses have been turning to creating a mobile website to appeal to millions of users. It’s possible to create a mobile website that is accessible across many platforms and devices, but the most notable limitation is the screen size. It can be difficult to keep your original website design intact when the same amount of content must fit on a screen that is a mere fraction of a monitor’s size. A common solution is to pare down the website and leave out content, graphics, videos and pictures. These simplified sites are often easier to navigate and load times don’t become interruptive.

Mobile websites use different HTML and URL than a full website and the majority of mobile device users are automatically directed to a mobile website. On the occasions that they are not redirected automatically, they may be presented with a message and link alerting them to the fact that a mobile site is available. If a consumer dislikes your mobile site, it is not uncommon for him or her to prefer browsing on the full site. You can’t force consumers to use a mobile site, but you can make it a more preferable option.

Responsive Website Design

Many users don’t want to have limited access to sites. To appeal to a broad consumer base, some businesses choose to implement a responsive website design. Like the name suggests, a responsive website responds the screen size and rearranges content presented to fit on that page. A responsive design starts usually with a full website that would be optimally viewed on a desktop monitor. Each element on the page, such as a banner, advert, content and images, is moved on a template matrix so that when the page is viewed at a smaller size, the components respond to the browser and shift the placement of the elements. This might mean an advert dropping down below content or an image moving above the ad. It’s up to the creator to determine how the elements will respond to changing browser sizes.

Responsive website design allows you to use just one website across a plethora of platforms and devices without worrying whether content gets lost on large screens or overpowered on small screens.

Choosing the right design

There may not be a clear “right” and “wrong” when it comes to choosing between responsive and mobile website designs. It may come down to the preferences of those in charge of the decision at each company. Many of our clients turn to analytics to help them make their choice. If you find that the majority of your users browse using mobile devices, a mobile website might make the most sense. But if you have a healthy mix of platforms and devices accessing your site, responsive may please and appeal to more consumers.