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Mobile Responsive vs. Optimized vs. Friendly: What’s the Difference?

Let’s face it: it’s vital for successful businesses to maintain a user-friendly website in 2017. At this point in history we are more reliant on our cell phones than ever before, and so it is absolutely essential to have a website that responds effortlessly on mobile devices. Fortunately, the process for making that happen isn’t as difficult as one may think, especially with the help of a design agency.

There are three different terms to describe the various ways a site can appear on mobile devices: mobile responsive, mobile optimized and mobile friendly.

  • A mobile responsive website is the most user-friendly of the trio. Antonio Colon, one of the web designers at Compulse Integrated Marketing, notes how the main difference between a responsive website and the two latter options is that the framework for this type of site has been built and designed from the ground up to transition seamlessly between mobile, tablet and PC interfaces. “It will break down, resize, and adjust its proportions ‘responsively’ to optimally display the pages’ content and information.”
  • A mobile optimized site is similar to a responsive design from a mobile and tablet standpoint, but differs when translated to PC. These sites are specifically built with mobile users in mind. Think of this as having a mobile app design’s look and feel, like “Uber;” they’re not really built to work on stationary platforms. Much like mobile responsive sites, these are also designed and built from scratch.
  • A mobile friendly design is the least “friendly” of the three. These websites will still be accessible to mobile viewers, but they aren’t designed for optimal user experience. Usually these sites will show on mobile as they do on PC, and so the font will initially appear extremely small, making it difficult for users to navigate.

In a time where mobile web browsing is at its peak, it is crucial to have a site that is easy to navigate. A responsive or optimized site is much preferred to mobile friendly, so how does one going about obtaining that?

The bad news is that both responsive and optimized sites can take time and money – though it is important to note that new web designs are both more cost efficient and easier to implement than ever before. As Colon mentioned, mobile responsive and optimized websites have to be designed and built from the ground up, which means that prospective clients have to purchase an entirely new site in order to get a truly mobile-friendly design. “Hand coded frame structures aren’t coded to be structurally modifiable or easily replaceable by simple measures,” Colon explains. “Their foundation has to be designed for responsiveness.”

The good news? Once a site has been optimized, no other work needs to be done. The client can go about updating their various pages as they always have without changing a single aspect of their process and the site will automatically optimize itself from both mobile and tablet perspectives.

Another way you can save yourself the sweat is by having a design agency like Compulse take care of the dirty work for you. Josh McComas, Compulse’s back end/technical manager, noted how all of our projects result in responsive design solutions “regardless of [the client’s] investment into their web presence. Compulse prefers to use Divi, a flexible, responsive theme that includes a responsive design for our small business package sites, landing pages and smaller custom websites. Divi allows Compulse to provide a strong responsive website for clients of all sizes.”

Larger custom websites use Twitter’s Bootstrap framework “to provide highly tailored and responsive interfaces for clients,” according to McComas. “Bootstrap gives our designers complete control over the display of your website, allowing them to create hand-crafted responsive designs for smartphones, tablets, laptops and PC displays of various sizes.”

For more information about how you can make your website mobile responsive or optimized, visit www.compulse.com.