Mobile responsive vs Mobile optimised - which is better for your website design?

Website design has evolved at a blistering pace over the past decade. Gone are the days when a website was purely created to deliver its data in the most efficient way possible. Today, the focus is not just on data communication but also ensuring that the experience of using a website is satisfying and that the structure is search engine compliant for the benefit of SEO. The key to this is designing a website that can be used and browsed via mobile – but should you opt for a mobile responsive or a mobile optimised design?

Mobile optimised vs mobile responsive – what’s the difference?

A mobile optimised website has been specifically designed for viewing via a device such as a smart phone. It may have a number of features that are will enable a better mobile browsing experience, from highly compressed images to skeleton content that is much more concise than desktop website text. It is a separate entity from a desktop experience and has a range of benefits, including helping the business to attract and convert more mobile traffic.

A mobile responsive website reacts to the screen size of whatever device is being used to view it and will fit it accordingly. With responsive design there is no separation of sites but one single core template that is effective for every screen size and fit. Mobile responsive design is the more recent development and one that is increasingly popular, as it tends to be cheaper and easier to manage than a specially mobile optimised design. However, it does also have its downsides, such as excessive data transfer.

Every website needs to be mobile-ready

At least half of us use our mobile phones to access the internet several times a day and virtually every prediction for the future of web browsing puts mobile as the preferred method of access. Plus, Google has made this a priority with its mobile-first indexing, which means it will essentially look for, and crawl, a mobile site first. Where there is no mobile site this could negatively impact rankings. So, ensuring that your website is mobile friendly is key – in addition to an optimised or responsive configuration, these are just a few of the factors to review to see how mobile-ready your site really is:

- Page speed – mobile browsing requires fast page speeds. There are many ways to achieve this, including leveraging browser caching and optimising images.

- Pop ups and Flash – mobile users trying to deal with closing pop ups could get frustrated and quickly bounce. Similarly with Flash, if your website design uses it then those who can’t access it via their devices will miss out on features.

- Titles and meta descriptions – optimisation needs to be even more concise for mobile because of the smaller space involved.

- CSS, JavaScript, or images – these used to be blocked because some mobile devices couldn’t support them but today Google wants to see and categorise the same content that users do so don’t block them.

Whether you opt for a mobile responsive or mobile optimised web design, it’s crucial that your site is ready for mobile visitors one way or another. If you’d like to chat through your mobile configuration options, and which is best for your business, please get in touch.

Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow us on Google+