What Does Responsive Mean? Is It the Same as Mobile-Friendly?

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More than half of all Internet sessions now happen on a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone. Google has added criteria about mobile display to its ranking factors.

What this means for a small business owner like you is you need to follow your audience. If people access your website from devices like smartphones, the site must support them.

Another term you’ve likely heard is “responsive.” What does responsive mean when it comes to your website? Is it the same as mobile friendly, or is it something else?

In this guide, we’ll give a clear definition of both terms and show where they overlap and how they differ. We’ll also look at some of the ways to make a website more friendly no matter where the traffic is coming from. Finally, we’ll look at the best way to get your website up to speed with these trends.

Defining Mobile Friendly

Let’s look at the term mobile-friendly website first. What does this mean?

Mobile friendly websites are optimized for display on mobile devices like smartphones.

This often means they adapt to different screen sizes. If a website doesn’t accommodate mobile, a user could be unable to see certain elements. There isn’t a specific code for this, but a mobile-friendly site scales itself for smaller screens.

Mobile friendliness also means making sure the website loads quickly for mobile devices. Many tablets and smartphones use WiFi and cellular connections, which can be unstable. Mobile friendly websites take this into account, using smaller images and less data.

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To achieve a mobile-friendly website, you’ll need to do things like make sure images scale properly. Static content is also important. You may also want to simplify navigation for the site.

The purpose of a mobile-friendly website is to make sure users have the same experience as desktop users. What they see is the same as the desktop version. Functionality isn’t compromised.

What Does Responsive Mean?

Now we’ll look at the next question: What is a responsive website?

Many people have confused web responsiveness and mobile friendliness. They’re actually two different things, although they both deal with similar issues.

A responsive website responds to the user. This means that the site changes in response to the user’s device. An example would be a three-column website that switches to single-column on mobile.

It’s easy to see why people would get the terms a bit mixed up. At first glance, responsive websites sound an awful lot like mobile friendly sites.

The differences are key. A responsive website features dynamic content, which changes as it’s viewed on different devices. Mobile friendly sites scale to screen size, but their content is static.

Responsive websites are also reliant on mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. Mobile-friendly design isn’t tied to an operating system. In fact, it functions the same way across desktop operating systems and mobile ones.

Which is Better?

As a small business owner, you’re likely wondering what you need to adopt for your business. Do you need a responsive website, or will a mobile-friendly version of your site be enough?

There are a few factors to consider. Ask yourself:

  • How important is search engine optimization to your marketing?
  • How many of your visitors are using mobile?
  • What is the complexity level of your site?
  • How often do you plan to update and redesign your site?

If your website is simple and you plan to update it soon, a mobile-friendly site might be enough for now. The same may be true if less than a third of your traffic is coming from mobile.

If SEO is important for your business and a large part of your traffic comes from mobile, mobile responsive design might be the right choice. Responsive websites also have a longer shelf life. They’re the better choice for optimizing complex websites for mobile devices.

The Benefits of a Responsive Site

The future is increasingly mobile. It’s one reason responsive sites have a longer shelf-life than mere mobile friendliness.

Now you need to decide whether a mobile friendly or a mobile responsive website is right for you. There are a few factors you’ll want to take into consideration. In particular, you should think about the benefits responsive design offers.

Responsive design features:

  • Website code optimized for faster loading
  • Better SEO friendliness
  • Support for more browsers

Improved SEO allows your users to find you, whether they’re using a tablet at an airport or their desktop at home. Reduced loading time helps them find what they need faster. Mobile users are on the go, and they won’t spend time waiting for a page to load.

Better support for more browsers means your website displays properly across devices.

All these factors contribute to the user experience. If the user has a good experience, chances are they’ll spend more time browsing and they may even come back. It also increases the chance they’ll convert from visitor to customer.

If you’re going to invest in your website to upgrade it, you should consider a responsive website. It will last longer and provide the better experience for your visitors.

Give Your Site a Mobile Makeover

Now you’ve answered your questions, including, “What does responsive mean?” You’re considering the advantages of mobile-friendly sites and responsive sites. You’re weighing the cons of both options as well.

Making your site either mobile friendly or responsive can be quick and easy. There are plenty of do-it-yourself tips out there. The absolute easiest way to give your site the mobile makeover it needs is to work with the experts.

We can help you decide if a mobile-friendly site is a good option for you, or if you should upgrade to a responsive site. Once you’ve decided, we’ll craft a better mobile experience for your website visitors. Get in touch and we can get started now.

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