It seems like every day a new mobile device is introduced, whether it be a smart phone, tablet, or iPad, and we’re seeing a rise in mobile traffic as a result. Even devices such as the Macbook Air, which is a full-sized computer, is considered a mobile device. In fact, more than half of internet traffic comes from a mobile device. It is no surprise then that we are making a more calculated move toward mobile friendly websites, and making sure our sites are optimized as such.

It’s an amazing thing that websites are able to conform to our devices, resizing images and texts and moving around navigation to better fit a mobile experience. There are two ways to achieve mobile friendliness, and while both options have a similar end result, they have vast differences.

A mobile website is a second website that is a mirror image of your desktop site, except that it is built to be viewed on a mobile device. Mobile websites are generally easier to build and require less work on the development side. Because mobile websites are easier to build, they can often be launched in conjunction with a desktop site, or immediately after. Mobile websites often tend to make less of an impact on your budget since it requires less time, resources, and development than desktop websites. The flaw with mobile websites is that they can vary according to devices. Since it is one set design, it often doesn’t translate well to different sized screens. The mobile site you see on your smart phone would often be the same size as the site you view on your tablet, even though the size of the screen differs dramatically.

Responsive web design is a way to achieve mobile friendliness that is often favored to a separate mobile website. This is because responsive web design is only one website that has the ability to adjust according to the screen it is viewed on. This tends to be more expensive because of the extensive work and design efforts that need to be put into it. It is still the preferred method considering your focus only needs to be on one website. Responsive web design tends to be a better user experience for the simple fact that it can adjust so flawlessly to the users’ devices and provide a better experience overall. Responsive web design is a lot more complex than a mobile website, but often the pros outweigh the manpower and price.