For years, SEO practitioners have dealt with Google’s algorithm updates, including Mobilegeddon. In 2015, this algorithm changed the search engine so that it would boost the ranking of websites that are mobile-friendly.
However, there seems to be a confusion between the flurry of terms that entered the picture. Now, optimizers are asked not just to make websites mobile-friendly, but responsive too. But is there a difference, really?
The answer is a resounding “yes.”
While some people use the terms interchangeably, it is important to understand that mobile-friendly isn’t the same thing as mobile-responsive when it comes to web design.
Understanding What “Mobile-Friendly” Really Means
A website is considered “mobile-friendly” if it can be accessed via smartphones and tablets without the need to add the “m.” at the beginning of the original URL.
One of the main characteristics of such design is that it is a copy of the website and displays all the content that are available on the same page when accessed via desktop computer. This means that everything— from text-based contact information to non-Flash slideshows of images— should be made available in the page even when the user is using a tablet or smartphone to access it.
However, it is merely a smaller version of the website as converted by the server. While the content appears smaller, all functionalities still work. Unfortunately, there’s a kink in this particular mobile-based format: it is not ideal for stubby fingers. This gave birth to a new, more advanced optimization dubbed as the “mobile-responsive” web design.
What is Considered as Responsive in Mobile Web Design
Many experts in SEO and web design prefer responsive mobile web design. This is because it provides better chances of ranking and reduces load time. It is also more all-encompassing compared to mobile-friendly websites as it supports more browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
Mobile-responsive web designs automatically change its format to suit reading and browsing using smaller, portrait-oriented screens. For this type of design, the website’s format changes in a way that would show bigger text and images while allowing fluidity. This makes it easier for users to read the text and enjoy the images without the need to zoom in on a particular portion of the page. And the best part of it is that users can already browse using only one hand— or one thumb, to be precise.
Mobile-Friendly vs. Mobile-Responsive: Which Provides Better UX?
Since user experience has become the center of all website optimization, it is only appropriate to choose a mobile web design that will provide the best UX possible. After learning about the main differences between mobile-friendly and responsive designs, you should already have a good idea that the latter is preferred by both users and search engine.
In fact, Google claimed that responsiveness is the key to gaining better rank on mobile as it allows users to enjoy the page to its fullest, no matter what device they are viewing it on. This means that the flexibility lent by mobile-responsive web designs make them more SEO-friendly than ones that are only mobile-friendly.
Still, it is important to note that there are certain types of websites that can make do with mobile-friendly and focusing on better experience on desktop computers. These are the ones who cater to people who spend more time browsing the web in their computers, rather than in their smartphones.
Experts revealed that having responsive web designs are also more expensive because of its benefits. Even so, they consider this particular advancement in web designing as a worthy investment as it can help businesses reach new heights. This is especially true for online selling because it allows users to make purchases even when they’re on-the-go.