Responsive or mobile design?

Responsive vs. Mobile

This is a question all website owners must ask themselves when they set out to hire a web designer.  And it’s a question your designer/developer should be able to consult on with you.  I’m going to give you the down and dirty here and if you’re interested in learning more about which one is right for you, contact me and we can discuss it further.



A responsive website is one that knows the size of the display your device is using and delivers an appropriately formatted version of your website.  So if your customers are using a full-sized monitor, as one would when using a computer or laptop, they will get the full sized layout of your site.  However, if they are using a tablet or smart phone, they will get two different layouts still, each optimized for the smaller screen size on which they’re viewing your website.  This type of “responsive” design doesn’t require a different version of your site or a different internet address (you’ve probably seen address that go from “” to “”.  One address means that you only have one website to maintain, a huge time-saving feature for the future.  Responsive designs, however, can be difficult to retrofit an existing website in to because it relies on a new type of coding, which could cost you because an existing site may have to be redesigned.  So if you want the best the coding geeks (mad props to these men and women, by the way) have to offer and a website that’s up with the latest advances, maybe it’s time to redesign, in a responsive way.



A mobile site is a smaller, separate version of your website that’s designed to display well on smaller screens such as those on tablets and smart phones. Mobile sites and formats preceeded responsive designs because the necessary code didn’t exist yet. It’s a completely different look and feel than your full site but a designer should be able to maintain some common threads so it doesn’t feel like you’re visiting someone else’s site altogether.  Mobile sites are also optimized for touch screen devices, although responsive sites take this into account as well.  Mobile sites, when not run by a powerful platform such as WordPress, may require a lot of maintenance and upkeep to remain current with your full-sized site.  A mobile site might be the best option for an existing website if:

  1. You are completely and totally in love with the look and feel of your full site
  2. You are unwilling to touch it
  3. You have the time to maintain a second version

However, mobile sites that are built on a WordPress platform require no extra maintenance, which is why I design and develop exclusively on WordPress.  At the end of the day, you need to take inventory of what you have, are willing to accept in the change department, and what your budget is for upgrading.  Oh, and we also need to talk because this is what I do!