Responsive Design vs Mobile Websites. What Does Your Business Need?


Most of our clients contact us believing that mobile and responsive sites are identical in functionality and presentation. While they have some overlap in their benefits and features, they are two, very unique web products.

Responsive Sites

A responsive site enables you to have just one website that automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of the tablet, Smartphone, desktop, or other device that your audience is using to view your site.

Elements of a responsive web site include:

  • The overall site design
  • The presentation of content
  • The site’s navigational structure
  • Image and video display
  • The ability to complete actions such as completing a form,
    making a purchase, signing up for an email

Mobile Sites

Mobile websites are specifically created and intended for usage solely by visitors who are using mobile devices. Unlike laptops and desktops, mobile devices offer a smaller screen and limited connection speeds. As mobile screens are significantly smaller, some elements of responsive design have to be considered as well.  This includes the display of less content, reduced nav elements, and fast-loading pages. Learn more.

So, does your business need a mobile site or a responsive site?

Both mobile sites and responsive sites offer compelling benefits. However, Caught in the Web Consulting firmly believes that a responsive website has more advantages than a mobile site.

A mobile site has to have a unique URL. The URL typically looks like this: “” Having a URL for your mobile site that differs from your traditional site’s URL can cause some issues. Having a separate domain name can hurt your business’ organic search traffic. Having a separate domain also means that links shared from a user’s mobile browser will not count as search link equity (also known as page rank , it is the number of in-bound links going to any given page on your web site) toward your primary site.   Link equity is preserved through responsive sites which makes them much better for SEO.

Because a mobile site is a different website than your traditional site, this means that your team will need to manage two different websites. Content needs to be updated for your mobile site differently than your traditional site. This also means that your company will need to have a separate SEO strategy and campaigns to accommodate the mobile-specific links.

It should also be noted that responsive sites enable users to have the same experience no matter what type of device they explore your site with. While a mobile site can be highly effective unique and catered to the mobile audience, their experience will most likely be different from the visit they’d have on your traditional desktop site making it difficult for your users to repeat actions, find what they once could locate from their mobile device, or to be able to have an equally good user experience.

Please note that businesses can have both, or- one or the other. Mobile sites can be more than adequate if you know that the majority of your audience connects with your business through their mobile device.

Before making a decision, be sure to take a look at your web analytics to see how your audience is viewing your site and what they’re doing once they arrive. Through Google Analytics, you can see the specific device your visitors are using, as well as the type of browser. Most importantly, you can see how they are using your site.

Keep in mind that it’s not just about presentation. A mobile site as well as a site built in responsive design need to be derived from a strategic approach.

Your strategy needs to consider:

  • What are your business objectives as they relate specifically
    to your website?
  • What do your analytics tell you about your audience?
    Are they on mobile devices? Desktops? A combination of both?
  • What activities are they doing on your site, independently and as compared with your overall traffic?
  • What content does your audience need to successfully
    engage with your site?
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Ready to get started? We can help. Contact Caught in the Web Consulting today to start planning your responsive design strategy.


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