The Pros and Cons of Responsive Web Design vs. a Mobile Site


Responsive web design has been getting a lot of favorable press lately. From Google's recommendation of it as a mobile best practice, to the seemingly unending number of articles that tout the importance of responsive design, it might seem as if the only choice any more is responsive. Still, responsive design has its drawbacks and a mobile website might still be the best option for your business. What are the pros and cons of each? Read on to learn more. 

Responsive Design Pros/Mobile Site Cons

  • A responsive design is built on one code base. Google likes this and your designers and developers will like this, too. One code base means one content source to maintain. Mobile sites have two code bases and two urls so that maintainance can be a challenge. 
  • Content delivery is flexible to accomodate all screen sizes. A responsively designed website reacts to the width of the browser window and adjusts the display of content on your site to fit those dimensions. Certain elements can be hidden to optimize the view on smaller screen sizes. No more optimizing for every new device that comes on the market as you must for a mobile site, a responsive design does that automatically. 

Mobile Site Pros/Responsive Design Cons

  • Mobile sites are optimized exclusively for the mobile experience. Responsive sites can be heavy with long load times. One issue that's arisen with responsive websites is that the content and images that are served up for larger screens, which usually are supported by high-powered bandwidth and high resolution, are also served up on smaller, mobile screens with limited bandwidth, resulting in poorer performance. Developers are working to resolve this issue, but it is something that has plagued the mobile experience for responsive designed websites. 
  • A mobile site can be less expensive. A responsive design requires you to essentially rip and replace your current site in order to make it a responsive design. This isn't something that is an easy overlay. If a site wasn't developed with a responsive design in mind, it won't be easily transitioned into a responsive site. A mobile site is a less expensive option that can be created at any time without performing a complete site redesign.  

Ultimately, you must consider the needs of your online visitors and of your business to decide which course of action is best for you. Do you have the budget for a site redesign? A responsive design is going to be the most flexible and give you the ability to meet the needs of a wider audience. If you have a limited budget or a set of users with very specific mobile content requests or requirements, then a mobile site might be the better option. Still further is the mobile app to consider, but that is mainly for companies who are promoting one particular tool or feature and not the breadth of information that resides on a website. Interested in discussing these pros and cons further? Contact our website design experts today. We'd be happy to help you decide which option is best for your business. 

 

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About the Author

Jen Herson has honed her talents and skills as an effective communicator throughout her career, including time spent as a writer and editor of children's books where she learned to distill difficult subjects to 200 words or less, a marketing army...

 
 

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