Understanding Versions of Mobile Websites

The differences between mobile friendly websites, mobile-optimized websites, and responsive design websites.

Having a mobile version of your website is vital to surviving in this new digital age. Users are spending more time on their mobile phones than every before. Last year mobile searching actually overtook desktop searching. While desktop SEO is still important not including mobile SEO or creating a mobile version of your ranking and traffic will suffer.

There is more than one version of a mobile website, though, a fact that many people don’t realize when they’re thinking about their mobile site. Here are the differences between mobile friendly sites, mobile-optimized sites, and responsive design sites.

Mobile Friendly Websites

A mobile friendly website is a site that displays the same thing on your desktop website and a mobile device like a phone or a tablet. These mobile sites will appear smaller with text and pictures scaled to fit a screen. Having a mobile friendly site can be thought of as the “basic” mobile version but it is incredibly necessary. Mobile search engines will rank websites higher that are mobile friendly.

A mobile-friendly site should have text-based phone numbers, addressed, and emailed addressed that trigger phone calls, directions or email messaging from the mobile device. For example, you want someone to click on your phone number on your site and have it open up the call screen automatically. In addition to images being scaled, smaller images allow for faster loading times, they should rotate as the phone does.

Mobile friendly sites do have some issues, though. They won’t work as perfectly as your desktop version even though they look the same. The small text could be a problem for reading and clicking on links. Navigation can also become compromised if the tabs are scaled smaller. These problems won’t discourage users too much though and having a mobile friendly website is better than not having one.

Mobile Optimized Website

A mobile-optimized website is the more advanced mobile website version option. For a site to be mobile optimized it means the site will reformat itself for phones and tablets. Content is reformatted to make it easier for mobile use, the navigation buttons are larger and so is text usually to allow for easier reading and link clicking. Images also load and scale different depending on the device the user is using.

These mobile optimized sites have “thumb” navigation. Navigation, large touch points, and scrolling is all designed around someone using their thumb. Graphics are reduced and scaled in size so that critical information isn’t compromised. Mobile users also don’t like to type unless absolutely necessary so mobile optimized sites make changes to avoid this when at all possible.

Mobile optimized sites are better for SEO ranking and user-experience. While search engines like mobile friendly websites over regular ones, they like mobile-optimized ones even better. But the real benefit comes for user-experience. Users are more likely to make key buying decisions when a website is mobile optimized. They can navigate and research more easily coming to a decision faster, sometimes in the store leading to an immediate purchase.

Responsive Design Website

For some companies an even more evolved mobile site version is desired and necessary. Responsive design is the answer to that. These sites are developed so that they are completely flexible for every device. Responsive design websites automatically orient themselves based on the screen size of the device rather than based on the browser or device type.

Responsive design websites are way more costly to develop than mobile friendly or mobile-optimized ones. It is worth it though is your company or business deals with a user base that is heavily active in the mobile market or that makes purchases on the go. The days of companies having individual apps for customers to make purchases on is quickly disappearing. Responsive design sites are the new routes for mobile purchases.

Which Is Better?

To decide which version of a mobile website is the better option for your business look at a few things. How many of your users are heavy into mobile usage? Do you sell products online? Every business should have a mobile friendly site at the very least. This will make sure that mobile search engines give you a favorable ranking, which is important as more users primarily search on their handheld devices every day. Whether or not you need a mobile optimized site or even a responsive design one is a bigger conversation.

Contact us today to discuss options for your mobile site.

Mobile Friendly Website, Mobile Optimized Website, Responsive Design Website