Google recently made changes to their search algorithm. These changes will favour mobile-friendly websites when searched on a mobile device.

What’s the difference between mobile and responsive website design?

Mobile websites

A mobile website is a different version of a website that is loaded when a user visits on a smartphone or tablet. Designed to be user-friendly on small screens, they commonly show less information and content, being easier to navigate through larger buttons, etc.

Designers create a desktop version of a website, then design another for mobile-only use. Typically, there is an option to view the desktop version of the site offered on the mobile site.

A ‘script’ is added to the website that recognizes what device the user is visiting the website from (typically based on screen width) and will display the mobile version if the user is viewing on a smartphone. When a user shares this version to a social media site, it will share the mobile version. Often these sites use a subdomain of m. in their URL.

Responsive websites

Responsive websites are designed around the notion that the content of the website should be viewable on all screen sizes. They adapt beautifully to devices that have portrait and landscape modes. In short, responsive websites are designed to ‘respond’ to the user’s device of choice and are only constructed once.

Essentially, Google’s search algorithm doesn’t care what type of mobile website you have. Whether it’s responsive or mobile web design, it’s all the same to them. User experience and web design professionals will agree, though, that responsive websites are the future of web design — screen sizes vary and are changing all the time, and it only makes sense to design one website that works on all platforms, rather than create multiple versions of the same site.