Mobile website, mobile friendly, responsive, adaptive, app…these are all the same right? Not really. Here are our definitions of those terms and the different mobile site types to help you better understand the landscape of mobile.
1. Mobile Friendly or Adaptive – The key to this type of site is the screen size and device type. This type of mobile site can change its layout and content depending on the device and screen size. Ex: iPad version, iPhone 6 Plus version, iPhone 4 version. Now, this doesn’t mean you need multiple versions of your site, it just means that your design and layout must adapt to different screen widths and show appropriate content based on those screen widths.
2. Responsive – Responsive is great, until it’s not. If your website is currently a desktop version only, this is a great step in the right direction. Responsive refers to the action of a website shrinking and expanding to fit the size of the web browser window, so that no matter what size computer or device you are on, your site displays within that browser size. The downside to this method is that usually responsive sites just reposition and shrink your content into a confined space. So all those awesome case studies and client testimonials you have on your site just get squished into a smaller space. And let’s be honest, who visits a site on a phone to read testimonials? I’m not knocking responsive, it’s better than nothing. But it does have some downside. The upside is that depending on who or how your site was built, your site may be responsive already. So kudos to the guy that built it!
3. Separate Mobile Site – This is a completely separate website that is designed, developed, managed and maintained separately from your desktop website. The great advantage to this type is that you can create a unique and customized mobile experience. This kind of site is strategically designed and developed to accomplish specific marketing goals. Typically these sites have custom homepages, limited content, defined user paths, and obvious actionable steps for a user to take when browsing.
The bottom line is that the web is universal and so accessing content should also be universal. Additionally, Google is now ranking your site based on whether or not it has a mobile version (of any kind). For more details read this article.
PS – Just because your website can be viewed on a mobile device DOES NOT make it mobile friendly…c’mon people!