Mobile vs Responsive Web Design – Which Is Best?

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As Google prepares to launch one of its most important algorithm updates in April, one that will begin giving preference to mobile-friendly websites over all others, website owners have a definite choice to make – whether they will have a strictly mobile design or a responsive design. Using the best web design type is essential for the best optimization and page rank. But what, exactly, is the difference between these two web designs? A good web design company must understand the small differences and help website owners decide which format best meets their website goals.

Responsive Design

By now, most people know about responsive design and the many benefits it provides for the best user experience on a variety of screen sizes. This type of web layout has a lighter code in order to change the layout as necessary, so the site remains functional without slow load times, the need to scroll across pages, or the annoyance of a looking at a screen with too much text or text that is too small.

Experienced website creators say responsive design was created to cater to the demand for a better web design on smart phones and other mobile devices. Of course, a site should be fine-tuned so it converts to the most user-friendly, mobile version of itself. For all intents and purposes, responsive design is also mobile design, with the main benefit being it is only one site – therefore, making it easier to optimize.

Mobile-Specific Design

A mobile-specific website is a responsive website taken a step further, so its design caters to smaller devices – like smart phones. The reason someone may choose to go with a mobile site, rather than a responsive one, is because there is greater control over the layout – which can be critical when attempting to create a useful site in such a small space. It is simply much easier to set up a mobile site separate from the main website – even if that site is responsive; however, there are a few shortcomings to this idea.

While mobile sites achieve even faster loading times, ease of use, and are recognized by Google’s indexers, the biggest downfalls are duplicate URLs for the same site and the necessity to maintain two separate websites. One of the main benefits site owners experienced with responsive design when the first mobile sites were created, was everything was kept on one URL. This provided a great advantage for SEO purposes, and remains one of the reasons why professional web creators recommend it. On the other hand, a mobile-specific website might be slightly more user-friendly due to a more simple interface, yet eliminates the significant benefit of the single URL.

Which Is Better?

Between the two, the most advantageous web design is going to depend on each website’s goals. If being slightly more user-friendly with a simpler interface is the most important thing, then a mobile-specific site may be best, only if maintaining another website and any loss of optimization due to duplicate URLs is not much of a concern. If this is a concern, then the responsive site must prevail, provided it is built as mobile-friendly as possible. In either case, the site should be able to pass Google’s mobile-friendly requirements and earn their new seal of approval to ensure it is being indexed and acknowledged correctly, so it is possible to achieve the best SEO and page rank.

When deciding between mobile and responsive design as the optimal web design, a site owner and their professional website design team must work together to determine the pros and cons and apply that to the specific site. Since there are down sides to both of these both of these web designs, the recommendation is to determine which provides the best user experience while mobile and maintains SEO for achieving good page rank. As with so many other things, creating a great web design and purposeful SEO is no different – and the proper testing, along with trial and error, may be required to make this determination!

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