The confusion over responsive and mobile versions of websites seems endless although the differences between the two are quite distinct and easily understandable. As a result of this confusion people tend to question the need for a responsive website, assuming a mobile site version will deliver similar results.
Responsive websites are different from mobile-only sites in terms of design, development, and how they eventually look. Responsive website design (RWD) can be best described as a design strategy used to make websites adapt to the dimensions of the device used by users to browse. These days, most websites which are developed from scratch are designed to be responsive by default. The advantage of a responsive site lies in easy readability since the need to zoom in, zoom out and scroll is eliminated. Another advantage of a responsive website is the relatively low-cost of maintenance once the site has been designed. Since there is only one website to maintain, the effort and time that goes into its maintenance is drastically reduced.
In addition to these advantages, the one that has most impact is having just one URL for a website which can be viewed across various devices. This is the best thing to have happened to the browsers!
On the other hand, mobile-only sites are trimmed down versions of the full-fledged websites. These are lighter than their full-fledged counterparts. Yet, mobile sites are not popular and are not used much due to a variety of problems they pose to the developers along with being a problem on the SEO front. If you’re used to browsing the web on a desktop or a laptop, a mobile-only site will leave you with a bland taste since most of the features of the desktop version will be absent. This happens in cases when the mobile site is used for particular campaigns or even to ensure a certain portion of content is available to the mobile user.[Tweet “Mobile-only sites are trimmed down versions of the full-fledged websites.”]
The presence of duplicate content harms your website in terms of ranking on search engines. This can be mitigated by using something called bi-directional annotation. This is a tedious process which can lead to errors. Also, it increases the load on the developers. Hence, it is best to keep the website responsive by default. Eventually the mobile site will go on to create more harm than good also leading to unnecessary loss of time and resources. The flip side of having a mobile site is higher cost of maintenance although the initial cost of developing the mobile site is not very high.
If you are looking at a website for your business from a long-term perspective, it is best to opt for a responsive design layout as opposed to a separate mobile site. This not only ensures your website is in line with the latest technological practices in terms of website design and development but also connects users of different devices to it.