Mobile Responsiveness vs. Mobile Optimization in Web Design

Mobile Responsiveness vs. Mobile Optimization in Web Design

Congrats! You’re building a new website. Maybe you’re starting from scratch or maybe you’re revamping an old website … either way, it’s an exciting opportunity to update one of your brand’s most visible assets.

In all of the fuss of deciding between different typographies, hero images and the like, there’s a less-sexy element of web design that many companies don’t spend enough time considers. With about 30% of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, organizations need to assess how to format the website in response.

Over the course of working with clients (most of whom are not web designers themselves), we found that we were making a paramount mistake: We did not distinguish between mobile responsiveness and mobile optimization, instead taking for granted that our customers would know the difference. This flagrant and inconsiderate use of technical jargon is one of the things we constantly try to avoid, not only for clarity’s sake, but also in the interest of not being insufferable a**holes.

After running into this issue more than we’d like to admit, we’ve decided to put together this quick comparison of the two as penance. Whether you’re building a website with V-Squared or with another designer, arm yourself with the following knowledge to make sure that all parties involved are on the same page:

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile responsiveness refers to method of web design that makes a single, dynamic website. A mobile responsive website includes flexible elements that will respond to the size of the browser it is displayed in rather than recognizing a specific device. For example, a website that normally displays 3 columns in a section on a full-width desktop browser might stack those three columns on top of eachother in response to shrinking the size of that browser or viewing the website on a mobile device or tablet.

The pros of this type of web design is that it’s incredibly efficient when compared to the alternative (optimization). It is a practical solution for most businesses who want a website that looks professional on mobile devices, but don’t necessarily need to customize the mobile experience for their customers.

Mobile responsiveness is a standard element of all V-Squared Creative web packages.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization is a more in-depth process which involves creating a website that recognizes the device it is being displayed on and presents itself according to the specific device. The mobile optimized version of the website will have special elements that lend themselves to mobile browsing: e.g. special navigation that is simplified and “thumb friendly,”condensed content and specially chosen imagery.

(Oftentimes, mobile optimized sites will include the option to view a full website on the mobile device as well, meaning that mobile responsiveness is still important even if opting for a mobile optimized site).

This function requires an additional investment—in many regards, you’re creating two websites rather than one. For companies desiring a tailored mobile experience, it is a necessity.

To sum it up, mobile responsiveness will give most businesses the flexibility they need in their website. But companies with an outstanding amount of mobile web traffic or catering to a high-tech or affluent clientele will want to consider investing in mobile optimization to create a completely bespoke mobile browsing experience.

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