Responsive Websites vs. Mobile Websites

Responsive Websites vs. Mobile Websites

Smartphone penetration* passed the tipping point of 50% a few years back, and is now at 73% in America.  Consumers now search more on smartphones than they do on the desktop.  Because of this trend, companies must develop a mobile device strategy to make sure they offer the best user experience for smartphone and tablet users. Many successful businesses that have been around before the smartphone have seen their online sales decline due to business lost to newcomers with more “user-friendly” websites.  Smart businesses that are still “Hip” to  gaining more customers and/or serving their existing customers more efficiently online are realizing the importance of bringing their website up to date for a number of reasons:

  1. Provide a better customer experience by offering buttons that can easily be pressed with a thumb.
  2. Make the buying or researching process easier.
  3. Make finding directions or clicking to call easier.

Which kind of mobile adaptation is the best for your company?  Do you develop a separate mobile website or build out a new responsive websites?

Responsive websites are generally less expensive in the long run and require less maintenance than maintaining a separate mobile website. We recently did away with our separate mobile website for DigitalHipster, and have converted many clients over to one single responsive website from older websites.  If you are looking to build a new website, a responsive website is the way to go, With responsive web design, there is no need to coordinate updating another website. Even with today’s adaptable mobile websites that detect changes in the existing website, there are still times when things must be manually updated on the mobile side.

Overall, responsive design has many advantages to running a separate mobile website, but it still has a few drawbacks that might keep you from choosing to go that route. Mobile and desktop use are completely different experiences. Having a single kind of website may harm your overall user experience if you don’t design it correctly for mobile, tablet and desktops. This means paying attention to adjusting font sizes and tweaking the overall layout for all devices. If you try to satisfy both mobile and desktop users with the same user interface, you may end up failing at satisfying either forum.

If you are a company that already has a strong and developed website, instead of spending the money to turn it to responsive, it may be cheaper to just make a second website that is easily accessible for mobile phone. The mobile website will need additional SEO work as well.  As I mentioned before, it may cost more because you will have to maintain two websites. You have to also consider that there are two different types of mobile devices: touchscreen and keyboard navigation. So with either the mobile website or responsive website it sometimes won’t look and work the same way across all device types.

Both mobile websites and responsive websites can be equally as successful, but the investment depends on your long term goals, required functionality, budget, and current value and functionality of your desktop website.  If you’d like to talk to us about few options for your business, give us a call a 330-331-7189 or email us.  You can also check out our web design portfolio to see how we’ve helped other businesses.

*percentage of people who have a smartphone.