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Mobile-Friendly vs Responsive Design: Let's Clear this Confusion

Thursday 06 August 2020, by Jamie Waltz

Mobile-Friendly vs Responsive Design: Let's Clear this Confusion

Just think of all those moments when for finding the simple answers and solutions in everyday life you pull out the phone from your pocket. Yes, it is pretty "every now and then" affair now to search mobile for anything and everything in life. How can the internet and websites stay aloof about mobile devices? Yes, since most users open and access the web on their mobile devices, the web design must conform to their norms and constraints.

There are two design principles to make a website design look mobile user friendly, respectively, mobile-friendly and responsive design. While designing a website for easier mobile user experience has become a priority, these design approaches try to address the need in two different ways. Let us explain their differences and how the former works better than later.

What is Mobile-Friendly Design?

Mobile-friendly website design is the set of design principles that shape the look and feel of a website for mobile viewers while maintaining the same design and appearance in all devices irrespective of the screen size and device dimensions. As per this design principle, a website will look the same in both desktops and mobile except making the mobile appearance only smaller.

Let's have a quick look at the key attributes of mobile-friendly design.

  • A mobile-friendly website comes with an identical look, feel and user experience in all devices except adjusting to the screen size.
  • The user experience and key design elements remain unaltered across all devices.
  • Mobile-friendly design mostly focuses on scaling the design appropriately to fit screens.
  • Some desktop-friendly navigation like the dropdown menu doesn't work well on mobile devices.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive website design refers to the design principle that helps deliver easier user experience across all devices. The responsive design makes the website perfectly fit the required functionalities and user experience attributes of various devices, including desktops and smartphones. On-demand app developers who are in charge of developing many successful user-centric apps have been the biggest beneficiaries of the responsive design principle.

Let's have a quick look at the key attributes of responsive design.

  • The responsively designed website will have a different look, feel and user experience in different devices. The website on the desktop will boast of a different look and user experience than the website on mobile devices.
  • The screen layout of the website differs across devices where it is opened.
  • Responsive website design is more user-optimised and focuses on enhancing usability.

Which Design One is Ideal for You?

From the above explanation of the key attributes, it is already clear that responsive web design enjoys a clear edge over the mobile-friendly website design. From enhanced user experience to more search engine optimisation scopes, responsive design is more user-friendly for many reasons. Here we explain a few of these reasons.

Device Adaptability

The most important aspect of responsive design is the capability to adapt to a variety of screen sizes. This adaptability does not just mean scaling up or scaling down the website view as per screen, but coming with design layout as per the screen size so that users have a smooth experience while interacting with the features and functions. Just because you are accessing a website on a small screen device, you don't need to pinch and zoom to see things bigger.

Smooth User Experience

Thanks to the wider adaptability across diverse screen sizes and device dimensions, users are likely to use multiple handsets for accessing your website and have the same smooth user experience and interactions irrespective of the differences in screen size and device features.

Fewer Maintenance Needs

When you have designed your website on a responsive design principle, you only need to take care of a single website instead of maintaining two websites for mobile users and desktop users. This keeps you better placed in terms of maintenance efforts and cost. Since the sane design works across all devices, and you don't need to manage different storages, the site maintenance gets easier. Though initial development cost for a responsive website can be a little higher, it ultimately pays off with less maintenance cost.

Looking from an SEO Perspective, which One is Better?

Google, as the leading search engine, has always been clear on its priority in ranking websites with better mobile user experience higher in search engine ranks. Google search engine algorithms are also adjusted to facilitate a better user experience. Since mobile users constitute the majority of website traffic in all niches, Google already embraced mobile-first indexing. This is why responsive websites always have a better search engine exposure than websites following only desktop design or just mobile-friendly design.

Do you want to make sure that your responsive website does well in terms of user experience across all devices? Well, you can easily evaluate the design output of your responsive website by using simple analytics tools. You can install Google Analytics and add your website to the Google Search Console. You can easily track the traffic flow and various visitor metrics as well as your search engine result details with this tool. This is an easy way to monitor and evaluate how your responsive web design is doing across different devices.


As the mobile users continue to dominate the web user experience and parameters of search engine algorithms, designing your website keeping mobile users in mind no longer remains just a choice but becomes a necessity. Responsive web design fulfils this necessity in an all-round manner.

About The Author

Jamie Waltz is a senior mobile app developer at Square Root Solution- app development Ireland offers various range of services. He loves to write & read various topics of app & web development including app development technologies, Frameworks, IDE, AI, IoT, Blockchain, AR/VR and more. Keen reader & Passion for writing makes him create content that helps readers & adds value to his knowledge.

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