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Mobile vs responsive websites

The 2012 annual Sensis e-Business Report tells us an average 58 percent of Australians with mobile phones now use their phone to access the internet – up from 26 percent. So how do you best tap into that growth?

Those stats get even more impressive when we look around the globe as Google reports:

  • 9 of 10 phones sold are smartphones
  • iPad or tablet purchases grew 400 percent in 2011
  • More Android devices (around 700,000) are activated each day than babies are born
  • 89 percent of people use their mobile devices to access the web every day in Spain, 93 percent in the UK, 90 percent in France and 85 percent in Germany

It is expected that by the close of 2013 more people will access the web through a mobile device than through a computer. So why is it that only around 15 percent of Australian companies have a digital business strategy?

When it comes to a mobile friendly web presence you have two options to consider – a responsive website or a dedicated, separate site for mobile devices. Now with both options there are advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of before you make your choice.

Advantages of Responsive Websites

Converting your existing website to a responsive site means that it will adjust and work across many different mobile devices and you will only have just the one main site to update. The annoying scrolling left and right to see the full content will be a thing of the past as the site will re-size to fit whatever screen its being viewed on. As technology trends change your site will self-adjust to resolution sizes and it will be more search engine friendly as Google will see just the one site instead of two different platforms.

Disadvantages of Responsive Websites

You won’t be able to customise content just for mobile users as this will remain the same as your main website and if your current site is image or word heavy this may present some challenges for the smaller mobile screens.

Advantages of mobile websites

With a separate mobile site you have the ability to customise content and appearance to suit a mobile users including an instant ‘call to action’ button that allows them to contact you directly from their smartphone. Streamlining images and content to suit the smaller mobile screens will also make the site less cluttered and faster loading than if they accessed your full site. You will also be offering the visitor the choice of viewing either the mobile site or the full website.

Disadvantages of Mobile Websites

The advantage of having a separate dedicated mobile site also has a downside as now you have two sites to update content on. As smartphone technology changes you may also have to update your mobile design to support new resolutions.

So here you have it, some of the major differences between a responsive and mobile website platform – but what one’s really best for your business? Generally if you have the budget a responsive website doesn’t come with many limitations and it’s easy to update as you only have the one site to add content too.

If however you want to create a mobile experience that requires quick decisions and instant ‘call to action’ then a separate mobile site may be a better option. A mobile site also requires lower development costs as compared to responsive design sites – which involve more sophisticated coding.

In today’s hectic, digital world having more opportunities to interact with your clients and show-off your brand across multiple devices is the key to becoming the market leader in your field.

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Tony Eades

Tony Eades

Tony Eades is the creative director of the BrandManager, a creative, marketing and communications agency based in Sydney and Perth. He is a business branding expert with more than 20 years experience in design, marketing, advertising and media production.

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