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Digital Marketing Insights | The Marketpath Web Digest

Responsive Web Design versus Dedicated Mobile Sites: What’s Right for You?

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Nearly 20 percent of web traffic comes through mobile devices. As smart phones become even more ubiquitous, that number will only increase. As a result, companies are compelled to create mobile-friendly versions of their websites. The debate that’s arisen from this growth is whether an organization should use responsive web design – creating a site that works similarly on a PC and a mobile device – or opt to create a dedicated mobile site.

What’s the Difference?

A responsive website is exactly how it sounds: It shifts and scales based on the vehicle the user is employing to see it. Large desktop monitor or small phone – the design is fluid and, well, responsive. A mobile site is built within a mobile framework. It’s a custom development designed to be experienced specifically on a smartphone. So how do you choose the right option for your company’s mobile presence?

The Case for Responsive Design

Responsive Web Design (Marketpath, Inc.)The number one reason to opt for responsive web design is overall simplicity. Regardless of where the customer decides to look at your site, they’ll be able to see it as it was intended. On the developer side, responsive sites, though more complex to create up front, are also easier to maintain down the road because the code doesn’t need to be modified to fit various formats.

Responsive design is also the preferred choice of Google, so that’s a big plus, too.

For a content-heavy site, responsive design may be the best solution.  You create your content once and can publish it everywhere.  You also spend less time on mobile-specific development because the site is built to accommodate large and small screens, and you have more time for content development.

We recently developed a micro-site for KSM Consulting (www.ksmconsulting.com/careers) and wanted the same basic content to be visible on all devices. But we also wanted a positive user experience, where the content was easy to read, regardless of whether you viewed it from a desktop or a mobile phone. Responsive was the perfect approach.

The Case for Dedicated Mobile Sites

Indianapolis Mobile Website DevelopmentConsider your average customer. Do they expect a custom experience when accessing your site via mobile? If so, a dedicated mobile site may be the better option. One example of this would be if the primary function of the site, or portions of the site, is meant to act as an application or connect with separate applications. On Amazon, for example, the primary action is for a user to purchase items while housing secure customer data.  A native app would be able to integrate directly with a user's personal mobile device, which is easier for the end user if they want to securely open the app and buy something.

Another reason you might go with a dedicated mobile site, would be when special custom features or advertising are required. Responsive design sites typically don’t allow for the inclusion of advertising banners or other custom features. If graphic calls to action are a necessary aspect of your marketing plan, a dedicated mobile website is a wise choice.

The biggest reason to go with a dedicated mobile site is the user experience. Are you content with providing visitors the same interactive result no matter how they navigate to your site, or should the mobile experience be different fundamentally because of your brand or a unique service offering? If the latter, the choice is clear.

A final reason (and probably the most common) to go with a dedicated mobile site, might be that your business already has a well-designed website (non-responsive) and isn’t ready for a full site redesign.  In that case, it may make more sense to develop a simple mobile site than trying to fit a responsive approach into a site that wasn’t designed that way.  In some cases, this is a more economical approach, until your next major redesign.

Still Not Sure Which Approach Is Best?

Are you trying to determine the web design strategy that’s right for your business? Contact Marketpath today to learn more about our mobile design capabilities. Click here to see some of our latest responsive web designs and mobile web development projects.

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Comments (24)
sudharshan bi wrote
very nice article
Posted Dec 7 2013 7:30 AM
roland rice wrote
Great article. I prefer Responsive web Design. Its okay with desktop and smartphones user's
Posted Dec 9 2013 10:32 AM
Steve wrote
You are right that most of the websites are start getting traffic from mobile users and also the number of mobile searches are increasing and even google now love those websites which are mobile optimized.
Posted Dec 9 2013 4:08 PM
Web Design Company wrote
Responsive design is becoming increasingly important.There has been a distinct audience shift towards mobile browsing and responsive design represents the simplest way to reach users across multiple devices and ensures a seamless user experience.
Posted Dec 16 2013 10:16 AM
John Murphy wrote
Instead of using separate mobile website and another desktop website, it is good that you create a responsive website. You can then browse your website from all browsers and all devices.
Posted Dec 23 2013 11:25 AM
carlos tawer wrote
I have a humble comment: I think the question about web design for mobile devices, we are setting aside a very, very important topic: the SEOIn the search engines, by introducing a 2nd index (home page)I am dedicated to developing web projects (www.loterianacional.nom.es and many other sites) and experience more knowledge tell me that the SEO issue is a problem.Search engine by introducing a 2nd index (home page) Website not indexed in the same way, why if, for example, in a design for desktop our site indexed in position 1, it is very difficult under the design (index B) for mobile devices keeps the site in the same position.There are other conflicts, such readings duplicate content, eg errors in the codes to be tracked by our site browsers for mobile devices, for example tracking from the main links to internal pages, etc. page.It is such a simple issue.Thank you very much, happy 2014
Posted Jan 9 2014 6:02 PM
Custom Web Designer Arizona wrote
Very nice blog. It's very informative.Thank you for sharing with us.
Posted Feb 1 2014 1:21 PM
Philadelphia Web Design Company wrote
I like that you covered the "pros" of still using a mobile version in web design. I still have customers that don't want to pull the trigger because they feel their site is not old enough and they didn't get the full ROI of their last design spend.
Posted Feb 18 2014 10:20 PM
Web Design and Development Company wrote
Responsive design represents the simplest way to reach users across multiple devices and ensures a seamless user experience. Responsive design is becoming increasingly important. Very nice information shared. Thank you for sharing with us.
Posted Feb 26 2014 2:13 PM
Virinchi Software Pvt. Ltd. wrote
Very Nice and good article found for responsive design. Good and keep it up.
Posted Mar 11 2014 9:28 AM
Jordan wrote
If you are looking for a new web page that maximises its achieve then a responsive web page is your remedy because it is not restricted to system. If you already have a desktop website that is too complicated to be made responsivee, then separating your mobile customers to a devoted web page is more effective for you. This way also allows you particularly operate your web page for cellular customers. But if your product requirements local or off-line performance, then Cell phone applications give your business more exclusivity and extra income sources.
Posted Mar 20 2014 11:58 AM
web design company wrote
Many thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love learning much more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your website with a lot more facts? It’s extremely helpful for me.
Posted Mar 23 2014 2:43 PM
custom web development new york wrote
Responsive website is more useful than mobile dedicated sites as responsive websites work perfectly on both devices computer as well as on mobile but mobile dedicated website will not as responsive website works...thanks for sharing such an informative post as this is very necessary to know the major differences between the two..
Posted Mar 24 2014 7:32 AM
web designer wrote
Thanks for the article. I just started customizing my first responsive website to suit mobile devices. Not liking it very much thou.
Posted Apr 1 2014 12:06 PM
Responsive Web Design wrote
In my opinion responsive web design is best as it had many advantages and that is the only reason people prefer this today.
Posted Apr 3 2014 7:54 AM
maroon hackel wrote
This is a great overview–if any beginners are looking for some great examples of responsive design, I gathered a short list of responsive websites done well. Take a look if you are interested.
Posted Apr 17 2014 11:54 AM
Gary Deacon wrote
I went back and forth on this subject and finally decided on the responsive design. We are a very local area window covering dealer with Lafayette & Hunter Douglas window fashions.Able to rank above the fold so to speak - organically. Most of my competition don't have web sites which is a great advantage. Thanks for the info
Posted Apr 25 2014 4:43 AM
Kevin Kennedy wrote
Gary - Thanks for responding to our blog on Responsive and Mobile Web Design. I don’t know if you already know this, but we recently designed and developed the new Lafayette Interior Fashions website and responsive mobile design. Check out our project galleries for more information.
Posted Apr 25 2014 5:39 PM
custom website design in Australia wrote
First of all thank you very much for sharing such nice topic. Its true that due to rapid expansion of smartphone users most of the web development company are bounded to make or switch to user friendly mobile version of their business site.
Posted Dec 18 2014 9:48 AM
Robin wrote
Nice read....Excellence web design is the key to a beneficial website. However, due to the abundant web design information, it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends.
Posted Dec 24 2014 5:29 AM
Alan Moore, the web design guy wrote
I have visited a lot of sites with responsive web design and I can say that it's quite convenient especially when I'm using a mobile device for browsing. I say it all depends on the type of website you have. Redesigning a web site takes time and effort and some businesses have theirs already well-established and if that's the case, a dedicated mobile web site is the ideal option
Posted Jan 15 2015 12:32 PM
Benedict Tadman wrote
Hi,nice information about responsive & mobile site..
Posted Apr 22 2015 9:36 AM
web development company wrote
I would like to comment on this quality content. I can see you have done a lot of homework and given this topic much thought.
Posted May 25 2015 6:47 AM
Arun Sharma wrote
There are a very useful and Great tips for web Designing and Developing in this blog... Thank you for sharing... :)
Posted Jul 18 2015 5:05 AM
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