It’s a common standard to develop websites that are easily viewed and navigated across all devices, and to most of the world, the terms mobile-friendly and responsive mean the same thing. But in our industry, they are two very different things. We thought it’d be a good idea to take a few moments and explain the difference between the two.


To put it simply, a mobile-friendly site is the bare minimum in terms of a mobile website. A mobile-friendly site is essentially a copy of your website, specifically designed to look and function the exact same way regardless of the device. Nothing changes other than the scale of the site, and usability isn’t factored into the design. How a website looks and functions on a desktop will be the same on a mobile device, only smaller.

Notice that the only real change is the the size. This is mobile-friendly.


A responsive website does exactly what the named implies — the website is developed to respond to the screen size of the device its being accessed by. Usability is absolutely taken into account and that’s why a responsive website is going to look, and function, differently on a desktop, tablet, and cell phone. If accessed from a desktop, the full website is going to display. Whereas if it’s accessed on a tablet or cell phone, the layout and navigation will display differently. Some things may even be entirely omitted.

And here's responsive design. The design remains similar, but is fluid based on the device.
And here’s responsive design. The design remains similar, but is fluid based on the device.

So…What Does My Website Need?

Well, that depends. Even though mobile-friendly websites are outdated, they still have their place. It’s a small place, but it’s there. Google now takes mobility into account as a ranking factor. This means when someone searches google from a mobile device, websites that are optimized for mobile viewing will rank higher than websites that aren’t. And in today’s world, that probably means that a standard website wil rank so low it doesn’t really count as a rank. That website will be buried in the deep, dark depths of the search results. So that’s what we mean when we say a mobile-friendly site is the bare minimum for mobile design strategy. At the very least, you need a mobile-friendly site.

But why go that route when responsive websites are a thing? While we’ll probably never recommend it, it’s because its a more cost-effective option to tapping into the mobile market. It’s easier to take an existing website and make it mobile-friendly than it is to make it responsive. Therefore, it doesn’t cost as much as much. Another situation in which a mobile-friendly website would suffice is if you have a simple, static website. If navigation is extremely simple and you have just have a few pages that makeup your site, in all honesty, switching to responsive wouldn’t have much of an impact.

As stated, I can’t think of a single situation in which we’d recommend converting to a mobile-friendly site. A responsive design is going to cost more, but the return on your investment will be higher. Mobile-friendly sites can be really frustrating for the user, therefore potentially increasing your bounce rate. A high bounce rate typically means one of two things (or a combination of both): 1) the user isn’t getting the information they need from a site or 2) the user is having a hard time using a site. Ultimately, it really means you’re missing out on conversions because your website isn’t delivering what it’s supposed to.

If you’re still not sold on going mobile, let’s look at the cold hard facts:

  • Mobile traffic has increased by 192.5% since 2010
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop
  • Mobile internet has overtaken usage of desktop internet
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour
  • 94% of consumers user online resources to research products and services before making a purchase

In short, the mobile market is HUGE and growing at an exponential rate. If you haven’t gone mobile yet, you have certainly lost business that you didn’t even know existed.

Luckily, we are experts in responsive design. We can take an existing website and spin it into a beautiful mobile masterpiece. Or better yet, if you’re in the market for a re-design, a responsive website comes standard in all of our website development projects.

If you haven’t yet tapped into the mobile market, we highly recommend doing so. There’s always someone looking for what your business offers, and chances are they’re looking on a mobile device. Don’t miss out on that opportunity, contact us today!

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