Responsive Design vs Mobile Sites

Mobile Traffic Is Increasing

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People using their smartphone to visit your website is on the rise.  In fact, it increased 12% from 2009 to 2012.  As of November 2012 Mobile Traffic represented 13% of all web traffic.  According to KPCB.

We can no longer ignore the need for having a positive User Experience (UX) for all of that mobile traffic.

Have you done any internet surfing on your smartphone?  Chances are you have and have probably noticed a difference of responsive design vs mobile sites.  Whether you knew it or not.

Most large corporate sites have built a completely different mobile version of their website.  Often these sites are completely different websites that were built for mobile traffic and are built as a subdomain, or redirect, of the original domain name.

More recently we are building mobile friendly websites that do not need to have a second m. or mobile.domain name.  Responsive websites convert the main website to mobile rather than redirect traffic to a mobile friendly site.

Both options address the need for content to be viewable in the small screens, load faster, and keep relevant content easy to find and access.


Responsive Design Vs. Mobile Sites

It is important to note that I am biased in this conversation.  I design wordpress websites using Responsive Design.  The reason for this is two-fold.

1.  I am not a fan of being switched to a “mobile friendly” version of websites.  I can’t help but feel like I am missing some part of the website that I would have access to if I were on a laptop.

2.  I do not think that most mobile sites are as beautiful as their original website.  Why should we have to sacrifice one for the other.

Responsive Design Vs. Mobile Sites

What exactly is Responsive Web Design?  It is a style of designing websites that changes the sizes of areas of the website based on what devices the site is being viewed on.

For example:  If you have a sliding image on your website it may be  1140px wide when viewed on a laptop.  It is told to shrink down to 960px wide when viewed on a landscape iPad, and again down to 480px wide on a landscape iPhone.  It is the same image no matter what device you see it on… it just changes sizes for a more enjoyable viewing experience.  

The difference between a Standard Website and a Responsive Website is that on a standard website you would need to adjust your smartphone screen to see the complete slider image.  Needing to Pan and/or zoom to get the image centered.  With Responsive Design the coding does that for the user.

In the end, with Responsive Mobile Design, you get the same look and feel of the original website with the benefit of a better mobile User Experience (UX) without the need to redirect your traffic to a second; or


What About Responsive Design SEO

I wrote about Responsive Web Design a while back and received a comment from one of my readers that Responsive was a fad and that for SEO benefits webmaster’s should be using mobile sites.  Initially I got a bit nervous that there was some validity to this claim.  However, after further thought.. I could not figure how using a single website for all traffic could be bad for SEO.

Matt Cutts, Google’s Head Of Webspam, recently addressed this issue on Google’s Youtube Channel.

“Does a site leveraging responsive design “lose” any SEO benefit compared to a more traditional m. site?” – John E. New York

Here is Matt’s response:



Responsive Design Is The Better SEO Option

“In general, I wouldn’t worry about a site that is using responsive design losing SEO benefits because by definition you’ve got the same URL,” Cutts said.

On the other hand he is sure to mention, on multiple occasions the dangers of having a second mobile site.  Saying, “if you do a mobile version of the site, if you don’t handle that well and you don’t do the rel=canonical and all those sorts of things, then you might, in theory, divide the PageRank between those two pages.”

Matt state’s in his response that both ways of handling mobile are technically proper in terms of SEO.  He also mentions that there are some mobile design help documents you may want to check out on the Google Webmaster Website.



According to the head of the Google Search SEO Police Team, Matt Cutt’s, both styles of web design are acceptable to Google for SEO purposes.  In addition, you might even glean that he thinks that Responsive Design is the better option.

In addition, I believe that it provides the best User Experience by keeping the uniformity of the Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile visitor.

No matter what way you decide Responsive Design vs. Mobile Site, one thing is clear… We need to design a Mobile Friendly version of our website for all of that mobile traffic.

By |2013-12-03T13:28:27+00:00December 2nd, 2013|

About the Author:

Jason Fox - Real Estate MarketingBusiness: We build WordPress Real Estate Websites with IDXMe: #GoHawks, #BringBackTheSonics, #MaybeNextYearMariners, #ILoveMyKids #SeattleSunLover #SeattleWaterLover #BFFBlog: Focuses on Wordpress Websites, Content Management, SEO Services, SEM Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Beautiful Design, IDX, and more.

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