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Mobile vs. Responsive Websites – Which One Is Better?

Mobile vs. Responsive Websites – Which One Is Better?

When you visit websites on different devices, you often get confused that some sites have mobile design and others have responsive design. It’s true that responsive web design is being adopted by more and more people as the percentage of mobile internet users is increasing exponentially. Undoubtedly, responsive web design is a powerful strategy, but it’s not an ultimate solution.

Both a mobile site and responsive site optimize your site for different devices, but in certain situations, when your site has a complex navigation, lot of pages or information and custom functionality, a mobile site works better than the responsive site. In this article, we will you walk through some points where mobile design beats responsive design.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

Faster Load Time:

Mobile sites load 7 times faster than responsive sites as they are specifically optimized for mobile. They have less content (text, images etc.) than responsive sites. A responsive site has a slow loading time as the browser is busy to load useless HTML/CSS codes, while a mobile specific site only displays the content that is important to the user.

While accessing a responsive site, all images and scripts are loaded first, which results in slower loading. On the other hand, a mobile site loads the essential content at first and the remaining components slowly. The mobile site has mobile-sized images, which also make it faster than responsive design. While a responsive design has a larger image size, so the images have not simply been resized causing a slower load time.

Less Development Time & Cost:

A mobile site requires less time and cost to develop it, as compared to responsive site. It’s quite easy to create and maintain a separate mobile version of your site without affecting your current design in less time, while the development of responsive design requires extra efforts and takes longer time.

In the case of responsive design, you’re required to design minimum two layouts for your site: full site and Smart phones. Besides that adding the features like tables, navigation and images to your responsive design requires additional efforts and creativity. Responsive site also costs a lot, while the mobile site is cost efficient unless you require redesigning your site.

Easy to Implement:

The best thing about mobile site is that you’ve not to think about legacy code and content from your existing site. You can create it using recent techniques and even use your mobile site as a base, in case if you are planning to redesign your website in future.

On the other hand, the implementation of responsive web design requires deep knowledge of design pattern and web technologies and also takes more time than the expected time. As it’s a new concept and has only limited resources, it has some unforeseen bugs that are very difficult to fix.

Improved User Experience:

When it comes to user experience, mobile sites are better than responsive sites. Mobile sites are created for users, not for the devices i.e. Mobile, Laptop, Tablet, Phablet etc. On the other side, responsive sites are created for devices, not for the users. That’s why mobile sites provide better user experience than responsive web design, by addressing mobile users separately.

A mobile site contains only core features of your current site that are necessary for users, so it makes easy for users to find the information they actually need. While in responsive site, core features are sometimes hidden somewhere due to a long and tedious list of functions. You may face difficulty finding a desired button in responsive site, as a navigation menu crowd your entire mobile display.

Desktop View:

In mobile sites, there’s always an option in the footer of the page to view your site in the “desktop mode”, from where you can switch to desktop version or regular theme of your site. This option enables the user to view how your website looks on a desktop computer.

In the case of responsive sites, you will not find such type of option and be obliged to view the responsive design. But the reality is that many people still like to see the desktop version of a site on their mobile. This is the one of the main drawbacks of responsive web design.

Compatible With All Browsers:

Mobile sites are compatible with all old and new browsers, as it displays HTML pages which are supported by all browsers. On the other side, responsive websites are not compatible with IE8 or below, which holds 24% of browser market share.

The bad thing about IE8 is that it also doesn’t support the CSS3 media queries, which is the base of responsive web design. That’s why corporate clients are complaining that responsive web design is not working with IE8 or lower. It shows that there still are many people who use the older versions of Internet Explorer. For those people, the mobile site is a better option than responsive site.

Fully Optimized:

Mobile sites are specially designed for mobile standards, so their content is fully optimized that works on all types of mobile devices. They provide a separate desktop and mobile content with customized navigation and help you easily optimize your site according to mobile as you already know your user uses a mobile phone.

In case of responsive sites, you can’t know which device (Tablet, Phablet or Smartphone etc.) your user is interested to use. So it’s difficult to make your content fully optimized unless you use a mobile first approach for your responsive design.

Conclusion:

As you can see, the above listed points clearly show that there are some things where a mobile site outdoes responsive site. However both types of web design are good but if you want to provide your customers only required information and are looking to create a mobile site in less time and effort, then mobile web design is a better option.

Ultimately, you’ve to decide whether mobile web design would be the best fit for your requirements or responsive web design, as it depends on the type of your business. So research well to understand your business, and then you can easily decide which type of mobile web design you should offer according to the needs of your customers.

Author Bio:-

Ajeet is a professional web programmer, and he is passionate about writing on web design and development. He is associated with SeoSemanticXHTML, a leading company that provides high quality PSD to Magento Conversion and likes to keep himself updated on the latest trends. You can also follow him on twitter.

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About Iggy Ko

I am the owner and main person behind WebDesignDev. I blog about all kinds of web design topics.

9 comments

  1. Zbibliophile

    Responsive is better and less work. You can use css3-mediaqueries.js and html5shiv.js to overcome most of the deficiencies of older IE browsers.

    • Frederik Krautwald

      @Zbibliophile Responsive is not “better” and it doesn’t require “less work”. It doesn’t take a genius to calculate that a responsive design requires more work, as you have to accommodate for your design to work on several devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops, TVs, etc), whereas designing for mobile is designing for mobile. Responsive design is not better because it doesn’t take into account the limited bandwidth many mobile users have. A big problem here are images and videos, and not to mention unnecessary JavaScript and CSS.

      While I am in favor of having a separate optimized mobile site, I also favor the “non-mobile” version to incorporate responsiveness for different viewport sizes.

    • Emm

      @Zbibliophile: “Responsive is better and less work” only for small websites. If you have a big site with a lot types of content – creating mobile website is faster and better for users.

    • Kevin M

      It is worth pointing out Zbibliophile that older IE browsers are not an issue with mobile devices.

  2. rickwy

    I choose mobile design… Great article… Thanks.

  3. dipak

    Hi This is dipak your information is very informatics i have one query about mobile site can you please say me if i do mobile site and i will do some changes on my websites like prices of products then it will also change i mobile site or this is different way to change?

  4. Robert Simons

    Absolutely agree! Optimization is of vital importance! And that especially concers internet shops. While using the full version on mobile device you have to wait for ages until the page loads but with the mobile version you can’t sometimes see the picture of what you are buying!

  5. Kevin M

    In some instances I will agree that a mobile site may be better. However I think you are stereotyping all responsive design and honestly if I was using the one you are referencing I would be looking for a better solution.

    In the case of many responsive frameworks that are being used on Joomla websites all of the negative points you claim responsive design responsible for are false. With a good framework you will be able to generate a great experience on all platforms and quickly be able to assign just the content you want to see on each view.

    It is also worth noting that a properly designed framework around responsive code will load just as fast if not faster than a mobile only site.

  6. hunbeckham

    I totally agree with the list and the arguments. I have a WordPress site using ‘Any Mobile Theme’ plugin, which I set up to use a really simple WordPress theme which I created. It is much easier and is really user-friendly, highly customizable and content-based. I thrown out every JavaScript and CSS, and my mobile site is kind of plain with only the neccessary formatting. It loads fast, and that is the point what really matters.

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Mobile vs. Responsive Websites – Which One Is Better?