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Mobile vs. Responsive Website… What is Right for Your Business?

Throughout 2013 the first question on any company’s mind has been how do I make a website and is it helping me attract customers? To answer this question, let’s turn to the most recent statistics on Internet usage. 85 percent of American adults age 18 years or older access the Internet on a daily basis. 63 percent of American adult cell phone owners primarily use their phones to search the Internet, while, 34 percent only use their phone to access the web. The latter statistics accompanied with the affects of Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, has increased the importance of a company’s mobile website. But what type of website will best benefit your company?

Responsive Web Design (RWD)
RWD websites are designed to create the optimal user viewing experience across a multitude of both desktop and mobile devices. Easy reading, minimum resizing, scrolling, and simple navigation are the most prominent features. Most importantly, a responsive website is a singular site, which has the capability to simultaneously adjust to any device without any help from the user. In short, say hello to a responsive site and goodbye to the following prompt, “do you want to view our mobile or desktop site?”

  • PROS
    • Only conduct website updates once (i.e. you don’t have to pay to update a desktop and mobile website).
    • Reduced costs (development dollars and hours are only spent on one site vs. desktop and mobile website).
    • Increased compatibility (as website developmental knowledge increases, RWD websites offer increased compatibility for multiple viewing platforms, such as Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, tablets, PCs, Macs, etc.)
  • CONS
    • Potentially longer download times (due to the actual manner, i.e. code, with which a RWD website is built).
    • Reduced ability to focus content (this is a particular downfall for e-commerce sites, who’s desktop versions may choose to focus on promotional content, while the mobile site may focus on a simple, quick route to checkout).

Mobile Friendly
Mobile friendly websites have been specifically designed to be viewed on a tablet or mobile device. They are typically a streamlined version of a desktop site. The most important company information is displayed on a mobile site in an easy-to-operate layout. A mobile site is separate from its desktop partner; as such, a business must pay for the design, maintenance, and updates to both their desktop and mobile sites.

  • PROS
    • Optimized exclusively for mobile experience (mobile websites are easier to target specific clientele).
    • Less expensive than a responsive design (if you already have a website in place).
    • Faster download times.
  • CONS
    • Google has recently vocalized their support of responsive design (greater SEO preference can be given to responsive websites vs. mobile sites).
    • Mobile websites must still be optimized for multiple devices.
    • More expensive (in terms of maintenance and updates, since both your desktop site and mobile website must have their content updated on separate platforms).

When choosing a responsive or mobile site, you must understand why people use your website. This understanding will enable you to more successfully determine what features will benefit your users the most. In the end, an acute sense of user awareness, accompanied with a well-designed website for mobile platforms will help you achieve your website goals.

Written by: Laura Parker
Laura Parker is a full-time freelance writer and marketing guru. For more marketing tips or to schedule a marketing advice session please contact her at

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