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Deciding between a mobile or responsive design can be a difficult decision. On the one hand, Google seems to rank websites with responsive design higher. On the other, a mobile design might provide a better user experience for certain types of websites. Looking at both types of design to figure out the best option for your purposes requires an honest evaluation of your readership, your own professional needs, and what you need to accomplish with your website.

Responsive Design

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Responsive web designs work well for websites that have a lot of viewable space which might not fit in every browser. Someone viewing your website on a large 27-inch computer monitor doesn’t need a responsive design to view the entire website. However, with a responsive design, they will be able to see more of the website before they have to scroll down. For people accessing the same site on a mobile device, the screen adapts so that the reader doesn’t have to scroll left and right to read the contents of a web page. Responsive design makes it possible for users to view the entire website in a manner that is most suited to the screen real estate of their device. This post gives 4 quick points in favor of responsive.

The Pros

Responsive design uses a single website design, so it’s easier to administer the single website for every device. There is no need to fiddle with settings for several different sites. Web design that incorporates responsive design uses a single URL and the website automatically fits the content on the screen being used at the time. The mobile and full website are exactly the same. Users often get annoyed with sites that force them to use a mobile version since information on a mobile website is often minimal. Advertising isn’t necessary for both sites and your marketing department doesn’t have to do extra work to market your website. Responsive design tends to cost less since you only need one website. Google ranks how responsive your website is with Google Webmaster Tools.

The Cons

Using a single site may not provide the best user experience for all of your users. It’s possible that what works on a desktop platform won’t work well on a mobile website. Not all browsers support responsive design sites. In some cases, your site might not load or load very slowly on older devices. Trying to create one site for every possible platform may require you to make design sacrifices that end up reducing the effectiveness of your website. Navigation menus with several drop-down menus and long lists of items may not work well on a mobile device.

Mobile Design

Mobile-Feedback-Design-Mockup - Mobile design

A mobile website is designed specifically for a mobile device and generally has only the most important navigation information to achieve the users basic needs. Mobile website are designed specifically to be used on small screens. Additionally, mobile design elements must be constructed in a way to make it easy to navigate using a touch screen. Unlike responsive designs, elements are restructured to provide easy to select navigation menus and the website is optimized to load quickly and be easily readable on a smaller screen. Responsive design websites don’t generally automatically increase the size of the text or take readability on small screens into account. Visitors that use a mobile phone generally have to enlarge the text to read easily. However, even a mobile website has to be somewhat responsive to fit every possible mobile phone screen.

The Pros

Mobile sites have the ability to tailor the experience to the user’s device. This can result in more traffic to your site since web designers can create effective sites that meet the needs of the viewer. Web designers have the ability to create a minimal site that is optimized for speed and loads extremely quickly. Mobile users just want the information they need without having to wait a long time to download images and text. Mobile optimized sites tend to perform better in local searches and rank higher. Users can download a mobile version of your website in the form of an app if web designers program one and make it available.

The Cons

Sometimes a user just wants to access the full website and switching from a mobile to desktop version of a website isn’t always intuitive. The cost of maintaining two sites is greater and administrators have to spend more time keeping both sites updated. This post takes a good look at affordability issues. Web design on a mobile device is generally lacking, but the added speed and convenience typically makes up for the lack of graphics and features. Not all mobile devices use the same technology. Some devices use a touch screen while others are keyboard-based. This means that a single web design won’t work the same way for all browsers and devices.

Choosing Between Mobile and Responsive Design

Ultimately, the decision to go with a mobile design or a responsive design depends on your budget and needs. If you simply can’t afford to manage two sites, then having one website with a responsive design is better than nothing. Users are fairly adaptable and while they may appreciate a mobile design more; however, if it’s not available they will likely still visit your website if you provide quality content, products and services. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish. If you have a lot of information on your website and several drop-down menus then a responsive design won’t work well for you. In contrast, a website that sells products and services might work best with a specially optimized website to guide visitors along the path towards becoming a paying customer.

jamesgeorge

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