Skip to main content

Mobile friendly websites – what does it mean?

mobile friendly comparisonThe term 'Mobile Friendly' is used a lot when discussing the current state of web design. This article will aim to explain what they are, why they are important, and will finish with an outline strategy to help you decide on the best way forward for your business.

The need to have a mobile friendly website has become more important due to the fact that mobile devices have overtaken pc/laptop devices as the most popular way of accessing the internet. The search engine Google recognised the need for a good user experience and has started to expand its use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. So what does mobile friendly mean? In general, it means a site that creates a good user experience on a mobile device without the need for constantly zooming and scrolling to access the required information. The main way to achieve this is either through the use of responsive design or mobile optimised design. These techniques are summarised below together with a refresher on what a standard website is.

Standard Website

A traditional site created in the same way that it was many years ago (before any significant take up of mobile devices). This site will look identical on all devices. This means on small screens, such as a smartphone, a lot of zooming and pinching will usually be required to view the information. This does not always provide the best user experience.

Mobile Optimised Design

This is a separate website, which would have a domain name such as m.yourdomainname.com. They are specifically designed for mobile devices and have less content contained in a simplified design. When accessing a website on a smartphone, the website would detect the type of device and automatically redirect to the mobile version. This will arguably provide the best user experience but does mean that 2 separate sites have to be maintained.

Responsive Design

This is a more recent design methodology. The design is built in a flexible way such that it is capable of adapting the screen layout and resizing the content to fit the screen size being used. It is more expensive than a standard website but provides more flexibility and is easier to maintain as you only have one version to worry about. It is generally recommended as the best way forward, however from an SEO perspective it is not treated differently to an Optimised site.

What should you do?

There is no single answer to this unfortunately as it depends on other factors, other than the pure design aspects, such as the main function of your site, the market you are, what your competitors are doing and so on. Regardless of the type of website, you should always remember to create a useful, relevant and user-friendly design with quality content that helps you rank well within the search engines. However, the following guidelines provide a way forward for most businesses.

You have an existing standard website.

If you were in the process of looking to update/refresh your website, then replacing your site with a responsive one is likely to be the best approach. If you are happy with your existing site, then adding a corresponding mobile site can be a cost effective way of providing visitors with a better user experience on their mobile device whilst also benefitting from the SEO ranking benefit.

If your business does not have a website.

A responsive website is likely to be the best way forward. 

Return to index