Responsive websites, apps and m.sites are all different from each other, and each has their own special place in delivering quality user experiences on mobile devices. The trick is understanding what these differences are, what they mean for the experience you deliver, and therefore which is the best option to achieve your specific goals.
Responsive web design:-
approach allows you to deliver the exact same content as your normal website (in fact, it is your normal website) but in a way that responds fluidly to the device size of the viewer, so the layout automatically changes to present the site in a more usable way for laptops, tablets and smartphones as required.
What doesn’t change with responsive is the depth and breadth of content, it just presents your entire website in a more usable way for the device.
Responsive websites are great for when there aren’t any task specific actions required through your website, just a means of creating a more user friendly browsing experience.
Ok, so if responsive sites are so great, why have an m.site?
An m.site is basically a cut down version of your normal website (usually prefixed with an ‘m.’ in the URL, hence the name) which has a different design, to fit within the dimensions and navigation patterns of a small smartphone screen. It’s different to a responsive site, because it only draws specific content from your flagship website and structures it exclusively for mobile devices.
An m.site is great when your users will only access your website on their smartphone to perform context-specific tasks. Classic examples are m.sites for airlines like Jetstar, and online-banking. These m.sites allow the business to display content from the main website (so no extra work in updating two sets of content), but limits the actions and navigation to only those that are mobile relevant, such as checking in online or logging in to online banking, plus a few other key features.
But if m.sites are designed for mobile task-specific purposes, why create an app?
Well, the official technical difference between an m.site and an app is that an app has ‘native’ (whether that’s native to apple (iOS), android or windows devices) features that actually utilizes the interactions and technology that’s built-in to that specific device. For example, if you create an app for iPhones or iPads, it must make use of features that are unique to Apple, like the ‘swipe’ or ‘pinch’ gesture interactions, the camera, and accelerometer or GPS functionality. The aim being that interaction with a native app is far superior to a standard browsing experience, delivering a much faster, smoother and more intuitive experience to users on that particular device.
Advantages of Responsive Websites:
- Website will adjust and work on many different mobile devices.
- You only have to update the content in one place (the main website); once a change has been made it will automatically be changed on the mobile versions of the website.
- You will not have to worry about having to scroll (left to right) because the website layout has been designed to display at your devices resolution, the website will automatically adjust.
- Simplified navigation for “thumb users”.
- Your website will be ready for any new technology trends instantly because it is self-adjusting to resolution sizes.
- Centralized link authority (which means SEO page ranks for landing pages will not be counted as two different pages, it will be considered 1 single page)
Disadvantages of Responsive Websites:
- The content will remain the same as the full website version; this means you cannot customize the content for mobile users.
- If your website is content heavy and wordy, users will have to scroll a lot with their devices to read content.
- If website has large images, loading it on a mobile device will take up more bandwidth because it is downloading the website content first than applying layout adjustments.
Advantages to Mobile Websites:
- Customized appearance and content. You will be able to modify the content of the website so that mobile users are only getting mobile content.
- Instant Call button, which allows your mobile visitors to instantly call your contact number from their phones while visiting your website – instant access to customer support or reception.
- You can eliminate content that mobile users will most likely not view, clearing up clutter and making it easier for mobile users to navigate your website.
- Fast loading, because it is not loading the full-version websites images, it is loading smaller condensed images which take up less bandwidth.
- Simplified navigation for “thumb users”.
- Allows users to choose between mobile or full-version website.
Disadvantages to Mobile Websites:
- You will have to update and maintain two separate sets of content.
- As cell phone technology changes, the design may have to be re-visited to support new resolutions.
- Decentralized link authority (which means that because you have duplicate content in two different locations on the server, search engines count that content twice as separate entities affecting page views and ranks – if not done properly)