If you are looking to develop a website that sees traffic from both computer and mobile device based users you will at some point have to make the decision between responsive web design and a separate mobile website.
Though responsive design is often a great way to ensure that mobile device users are able to access your site with ease, the approach does have some drawbacks. This means that when deciding between the two approaches, you have to ask yourself whether responsive design is the best option and whether it accommodates mobile use as well as you require it to.
The difference between the two approaches
As people’s use of the internet changes radically from home computers and laptops to browsing on mobile devices, so too does the way in which they interact with the internet as well as the demands they have and how they want to access information on the internet. This changing use of the internet lies at the heart of the debate between responsive design and separate mobile designs.
Responsive website design means creating as few designs for a website as possible, usually only one, which can then be exported across as many platforms as possible. On the other hand, a separate mobile website, which follows a philosophy of platform optimisation, means designing different user interfaces for every main platform that will access the site.
Is responsive design good enough?
There are two main considerations to take into account when answering this question: usability and cost. The way in which responsive design requires a smaller amount of development time and effort means that it is often cheaper to implement, but the design won’t be optimised for ease of use on each individual platform. This can mean that your website is sometimes, though not always, frustrating to use for mobile device users.
In this sense, you have to consider exactly what your site is for and what type of user will be visiting it. If the majority of your users will visit the site from one type of platform, or a number of very similar platforms, then a responsive design should be able to handle the conversion across these easily enough. This means it is probably not worth investing in a separate mobile site.
However, if traffic will be coming from a wide variety of platforms your website may struggle to provide an easy to use and effective website, as a responsive design may struggle with the conversions. This is when it will probably be a wise investment to create a separate mobile website.
In the end, it comes down to whether the greater functionality of a separate site is worth the extra investment and this will be dictated by the amount of traffic your site receives from different platforms. It is therefore advisable to speak to a professional web design company, such as Webeden and get expert advice and guidance on the best design format for you.