Mobile-friendly vs. Responsive

Many people are confused about the exact meaning of “mobile-friendly” and “responsive.” Are the terms interchangeable or different — and if different, how? If you are in charge of a website, you need to know.

Let’s solve this mystery.

Yes, there is a difference

“Mobile-friendly” is a standard for the way your site should be — easy to use not only on desktop computers, but on smartphones too. Responsive design is a method for making it that way.

Mobile-friendly requirements

A website is mobile-friendly if it is easy to use on a smartphone without pinching, zooming or squinting.

  • The text is large enough to read comfortably.
  • Links are spaced well enough to hit reliably with the finger.
  • Forms are spaced well enough to fill in with ease.
  • Features work — videos, games, etc.

The responsive design approach

Responsive sites adjust in real time to the screen on which they are being viewed. That way, they are always “friendly” to use.

For example, a responsive site might distribute page content over multiple columns on a wide computer screen but stack it vertically on a narrow phone screen. The menu, too, would vary — expansive on a desktop; limited to a few tabs or a single button on a phone.

Further, a responsive site avoids technologies, such as Flash, that do not work on all the major mobile operating systems.

The duplicate cialis website alternative

The other approach to ensuring a site is “friendly” is to build two separate websites — one for smartphones and one for larger devices. Users are either given a choice of which site to visit or automatically directed to the proper one based on their device.

Which is better?

Responsive sites are the state of the art. There are a couple of reasons. One is that they provide a consistent look and feel across platforms, so users don’t feel like they’re on different websites when they switch from computer to phone. The other is that there’s only one site for website owners to update and maintain.

That said, if you wanted to provide mobile users with different content than desktop users then it might be better for you to create a separate mobile website.

As to cost, responsive design tends to be the simpler and less expensive approach when building a new website or redesigning your present one. But if you’re happy with your existing website — except for the fact that it’s not mobile-friendly — it could be cheaper to do a stripped-down version of your site just for mobile devices.

If you’d like to discuss which approach would be best for you — or learn more about responsive design — email Sheryl or call 212-274-8310.