The Difference Between Mobile-Friendly And Responsive Websites

These days one of the most common requests that we receive on a regular basis is for a responsive website. That is a very positive thing since there are many great benefits that go along with having a responsive site. However, there also seems to be a lot of confusion about them. We will begin by sharing some of the more common misconceptions that we run into when talking to our clients about mobile-friendly and responsive websites:

1. Responsive websites that the only ones that work with mobile devices.
2. All websites must be responsive.
3. Mobile-friendly websites are responsive.

So what do we mean exactly by “mobile-friendly” and “responsive?” Let’s look at these two terms in more detail.

Responsive Design

What a responsive website is is a site that responds (changes) based on what a user’s needs and device are (in our example, a mobile device). So for example, images and text might go from being in a three-column layout to a display of a single column. Unnecessary images are not displayed so they don’t compete or interfere with the most important information on the website that is viewed from a smaller display.

When you are on a desktop computer, you can tell whether or not a website is responsive through reducing the window size on your browser down to very small from full screen. The website is responsive if menu, image and text appearance change as it gets smaller.

Responsive Website Key Features:

– Relies on a mobile operating system to function
– Correct spacing and padding
– Optimized images
– Condensed navigation
– Dynamic content that changes

Mobile-Friendly Design

With a mobile-friendly website it works exactly the same way no matter what device is being used to view it with. What that means is that nothing is unusable or changes on a mobile device or computer. Features are limited, such as navigation drop-downs, since it can be hard to use them on mobile. Flash animation is also not used. The website is exactly the same, with no concerns for usability no matter what type of device is being used to view the site with.

Mobile-Friendly Website Key Features:

– A mobile operating system is not relied on to function properly
– Images display smaller
– Simplified navigation
– Static content does not change

So how you can tell which is the best for you?

We are going to give you a useful checklist to help you make an informed decision.


Responsive design allows you to achieve a mobile experience that is more customized. However, it does require a somewhat larger budget, proper planning and expertise.


A simple, mobile-friendly site can provide users with a consistent website experience no matter what device they are using. These types of website might not have have extensive functionality and features, but they do work.