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The Big Difference Between Mobile-Friendly and Mobile Responsive Websites

Now is the time to invest in mobile-friendly designs.


On March 26, 2018, Google announced a colossal change to their search algorithms. After a year and a half of testing and experimenting, they rolled out their mobile-first indexing.


What’s the difference? Well, Google previously crawled and indexed the desktop version of your webpage, so they could rank your website. Now they use the mobile version instead.


What does that mean for you? If your web designs are old, it’s time to dust off the cobwebs. If you have mobile friendly websites, you may need to make them mobile responsive websites.


Don’t know the difference?


Then you’ve come to the right place. By the time you finish this short article, you’ll be able to differentiate between the two. You’ll also know the steps to take to improve your own website for 2018.


Read on.

Mobile-Friendly Websites

This is the bare minimum you should have for 2018. Developers design these websites to work the same across devices. The structure of page stays the same regardless of the device you use to browse the internet.


Unfortunately, features like drop-down navigation are uncommon in mobile-friendly. Using desktop navigation on a mobile device is often a clumsy endeavor. Also, no Flash animation is allowed.


A few key features of mobile-friendly websites:


  • Simplified navigation
  • Static content stays the same
  • Images appear as smaller versions of themselves
  • Doesn’t require a mobile operating system to function


A mobile-friendly website is often just a slimmed-down version of the desktop version. These versions were built for desktops. They happen to also work on mobile devices.


If you can’t tell whether your website is built for mobile, check out Google’s webmaster tool. It’ll not only tell you if it’s mobile-friendly but also how to change it to make it mobile-friendly. Plus, it’s free–can’t beat that.

Mobile Responsive Websites

Mobile responsive web designs change depending on which device you use. The offer a different page structure for smartphones, tablets, and laptops/desktops.


The page is set up in a formulaic, grid layout. As the screen width narrows from device to device, the columns in the grid change their alignment. Columns that sat side-by-side on the desktop version stack one on top the other in the smartphone version.


Unnecessary images are hidden on mobile devices. Then they don’t interfere with more important features on the smaller display. It cuts back on the load time too.


Load times on mobile devices are typically much slower. When you build your mobile responsive website, pay close attention to your image sizes and definitions. Smaller, lower definition images load more quickly.


Many responsive designs allow the coder to use different images for different devices. In other words, you can use a large, high-def photo for the desktop version and a small, low-def photo for the smartphone version.


A few key features of responsive websites:


  • Optimized images
  • Condensed navigation
  • Dynamic content layout
  • Reliant on a mobile operating system to function


Here’s a trick to tell whether your site is responsive. Jump on your desktop or laptop. Open up your web browser and jump over to your website. Once there, slowly reduce the width of your browser window.


If your website is responsive, you’ll see the elements in your shift and move around.


They’ll stack on top of one another. Pics will disappear or be replaced by different versions. A single button will replace your navigation buttons.


Well, is your site responsive? If it isn’t, we fully recommend making it so.


If you’re thinking of doing it yourself, we have a treat for you. Here’s a list of free, drag-and-drop, mobile-responsive website-builders.

Mobile-Optimized Design Strategy

Ok, we’ve already discussed the two types of mobile web themes: mobile-friendly and responsive. Of the two, responsive themes tend to rank higher on Google because of the following:


  • Faster load times
  • Longer dwell times
  • Fewer performance issues
  • More backlinks


So, what does mobile-“optimized” mean? Well, mobile-optimized websites are built specifically for mobile devices. They may still be viewed on desktop/laptop devices, but they’re not built for them.


These websites are either built with original coding or a responsive theme. Some design features include the following:


  • Single column layout
  • Minimalistic/uncluttered
  • Little to no need for typing
  • Smaller image files for faster loads
  • Easy navigation that’s thumb-friendly
  • Content formatted for maximum readability
  • Smaller graphics with plenty of white space for clumsy fingers


Mobile users tend to search for quick answers, whereas desktop users tend to research subjects in depth. To accommodate mobile users, we suggest you take advantage of sitemaps and schema.


A sitemap is a list of pages on your website. They’re used to create a hierarchical view of your website for web crawlers and search engines.


Schemas are a type of structured data. They’re used by search engines to make sense of content in your HTML. Schemas allow you greater control over your microdata and how it’s displayed.


With the popularity of search engines using voice rather than text, designs are changing. That’s especially true for mobile devices. Developers are using voice-search optimized layouts, sitemaps, and text content.


Something similar is occurring with video. Its popularity is growing exponentially, especially on mobile devices.


If you use video on your webpage, optimize its size and resolution for mobile devices. That includes your control buttons. Make them large enough that fat fingers can use them.


The goal of a mobile-optimized site is to make a seamless experience for mobile users. The trick is to build the site custom tailored for mobile users. If you want to add in some other features for desktop users afterward, that’s fine.

What’s Next?

Well, it’s time to redesign your site! But, before you go…


We offer a wide variety of articles to compliment your new mobile responsive website. Take a few minutes right now. Head over to our blog and search through our priceless content.


So long and good luck.

P.S. If you need a creating a mobile responsive website, reach out to Web123. Contact them for a free quote. They’ll whip your website into shape for 2018.

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