There has been much debate among website owners and developers about whether to build with mobile site design in mind or mobile responsive design. A number of factors come into play when determining which design direction to take such as what will produce the best ROI, which solution will result in a better user experience and which types of technologies should the design cater to.
In order to solidify which design avenue to pursue, it’s important to understand the differences between responsive design VS. mobile sites.
What is responsive design?
Simply put, responsive design is essentially a website that is designed to automatically adjust a website layout, content and features to fit any screen size on any particular device that users may be utilizing, while still providing good readability and usability. This does not mean simply making everything smaller.
One of the key elements to responsive design is the ability to enhance user experience while keeping up with the ever-changing world of technological devices.
A weak point for some is that there needs to be a greater investment in terms of design time and money, as responsive design requires building from the ground up in terms of coding.
What is a mobile only site?
Here is the skinny on what a mobile only site is; it is basically a website independent from the main website and is optimized for mobile devices. This particular design solution enables designers to provide a customized user experience for mobile device users.
Some of the pitfalls of using mobile only sites include higher maintenance, as one needs to manage two sites, as opposed to one and having two separate domains (ex. m.domain.com) which ends up weakening SEO results. Another disadvantage to mobile only sites is the need to consistently update the site in order to keep current with the latest and greatest in mobile technologies.
If your business currently has a website in place but isn’t optimized for mobile users and you don’t necessarily have the budget to rebuild an entirely new site, a mobile only site may be the best solution for you. If however, your business is forecasting the need to redesign a new online presence from the bottom up, it would be more advantageous to implement a responsive design approach.
Whichever solution you choose to go with, responsive design vs mobile sites, you will have some peace of mind knowing you are meeting the needs of mobile users around the world, thus opening up greater opportunities for profit for your business.