Mobile optimised vs. mobile responsive

Due to the rise in people using their mobile device to search online, there has been a trend towards creating websites that are fully mobile compatible. This trend is also due to keeping up with search engines, like Google, who have adapted their algorithms to provide optimal viewing experiences for mobile device users.

Google now uses ‘mobile friendliness’ as a ranking signal. This means when a person uses their mobile device to conduct a search online, websites that are mobile friendly (or mobile optimised) will rank higher on a search engine results page than those that are not. It is important to understand that this is only the case for searches conducted via a mobile device, and does not affect searches from tablets or desktop computers. When a search is conducted via a laptop or desktop computer, mobile friendliness does not affect a website’s page ranking.

Despite sounding quite similar, mobile optimised websites and mobile responsive websites are quite different website designs altogether. To help our clients determine which of these designs is the best solution for their firm, we have outlined and compared the differences between the two versions below.

Mobile optimised

A mobile optimised website is designed to behave in the same manner across a range of devices. This means that nothing changes when the website is viewed on a computer or mobile device. However, features like navigation drop-downs are limited. Mobile optimised websites have no usability concerns, regardless of the device on which they are being viewed. Clients should consider a mobile optimised website if:

  • You don’t have a huge mobile audience looking at your website via a mobile device
  • Your website is made up of mostly text and images
  • Your website images are small, allowing for fast loading over mobile connections

Mobile responsive

A responsive website is designed to respond to (or change) based on the device being used to view the website. A responsive website viewed on a mobile device will adjust the sizing of its text and images, as well as move to a single column display. Any ‘unnecessary’ images on the website are hidden so they don’t interfere with the more important information on the smaller display.

Users can test if a website is responsive when using a desktop computer by reducing a browser’s window size from full screen to a very small size. If the text, images and menu change as the window gets smaller, the website is responsive. Clients should consider going responsive if:

  • A large majority of your clients (website traffic) view your website from a mobile device
  • Your website has complex content and features that are difficult to view on a mobile device
  • You want your website to appear up-to-date for a longer period of time