What’s the difference between mobile and responsive design?
There are two major methods for creating mobile websites: responsive design and mobile templates.
Responsive design requires you only have one website that is coded to adapt to all screen sizes, no matter what the device the website’s being displayed on.
In contrast, a mobile template is a completely separate entity requiring you to have a second, mobile-only website or subdomain. Mobile templates are also built for each specific site, not per screen size. This can cause some issues, as we will discuss below.
Responsive design, a term originally coined in a 2010 A List Apart article by Ethan Marcotte, has been by far the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile website.
Here are some of the undeniable reasons your website needs to be responsive.
1. Competitive Edge – Mobile is exploding
Responsive design is still in its infancy, and not many people have taken advantage of this highly effective technology. If your company is considering updating its brand presence, explore the advantages of responsive design. Chances are, your competitors have not yet embraced it, but you definitely should!
- Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device.
- In 2012, more than half of local searches were performed on a mobile device.
- In the United States, 25% of internet users only access the internet on a mobile device.
- 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
- 25.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones, and 10.16% are opened on tablets.
2. It’s all about the customer.
Today’s websites serve as dynamic platforms on which DMO’s are adding new content to web pages, blogs and social feeds. With customers using so many devices – from smartphones to tablets to HD TV Internet browsing – your website must make this content available to everyone on every device all the time.
3. Flexibility Literally.
Do you know the size of your cell phone screen? What about the screen size of the cell phone you had five years ago? Screen sizes are constantly changing—and we see this not only in cell phones, but in desktops and tablets as well.
As new devices and displays are developed, screen sizes are constantly changing. With a responsive website, you do not need to spend your valuable marketing and IT resources on updating your site for new devices. Instead, your website will be displayed based on the size of the screen—looking great on screens of any size.
4. Positive user experience is a must.
According to Google’s Think Insights on mobile, if a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor). It’s also said that if they have a positive experience with your mobile website, a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.
5. It will simplify your life and save you money.
One website for all devices means you don’t have to maintain, manage and host extra platforms. With a click of a button, you can publish your content once and distribute it across multiple devices. When you build a responsive website, the site is the same across all devices. However, using CSS media queries, you are able to adjust elements for a given screen size. Though this sounds complicated in a technical sense, it provides a great time-and-money-saving benefit to marketers. Make a change once, and it is reflected across all devices.
6. Consistent Look & Feel.
Fonts, color schemes, button styles and imagery. With a responsive website, you are able to provide your users with the benefit of one, consistent user experience. Whether a user is coming to your website to shop, or to research an enterprise software, the simpler you can make their experience, the better.
7. It will future-proof your online marketing efforts.
Responsive Web Design is flexible, scale-able and has some sticking power in the years to come no matter how devices change.
One of the big benefits of responsive design is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size, not device. This means that no matter what size screen someone is viewing your website, it will display properly for that screen size.
So, in the future, as new devices (TVs, watches, glasses, etc.) are being used for web browsing, your responsive site will still look beautiful.
Moving forward, it will be extremely critical that your website provides mobile users an easy-to-use experience. Having a mobile website is no longer simply a nice feature — rather, it is now a necessity and literally impacts the growth of your business.
8. Responsive design is preferred for SEO.
In June 2012, at SMX Advanced, Google’s Pierre Farr went on the record to declare that Google prefers responsive web design over mobile templates. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to crawl your site as well as reduces the chance of on-page SEO errors. For these reasons, responsive sites typically perform better and are easier to maintain than a separate, mobile-template site.
9. Google. Google. Google!
When Google makes a recommendation, you better take it seriously. When Google recommends something, we should probably listen. On the Google Developers website, “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.” Yes, you saw it right here—Google actually recommends that developers leverage responsive design and development techniques when building their websites.
Why would Google make such a recommendation? Responsive websites provide a better, more consistent user experience—plus, many experts suggest that Google prefers responsive sites, as they are easier to crawl (overall, resulting in search engine optimization benefits).