Mobile Site vs. Responsive Design

In today’s world, the way in which people access the Internet is vastly different from just ten years ago. We have become a society on the go-go-go, and we like our Internet the same way.  In America today, nearly half of all adults have a smart-phone; around 25% use smart-phones as their primary means of access to the Internet.

So what does this mean for your business in this ever changing Internet landscape? To put it bluntly, you need a mobile presence on the web, and you need it now.  Luckily, Millennium can help you sort through the options.

Images from Google Mobile Ads Blog

Option 1: Stand-Alone Mobile Site

Chances are, if you’ve browsed the Internet with your smart-phone, you have come across a mobile site. A lot of big names have them, such as Walmart, Amazon, & Ford. When you navigate to these websites using your phone, you are are automatically pointed to the mobile site.

Usually, these sites offer a level of content that is tailored to mobile viewers. Some say you are looking at a “dumbed down” version of the full website, however, this term is incorrect.  A cardinal rule of all web design and development is “How is the user accessing the information?”.   In the case of mobile, they are most likely using a smart-phone, so the information they are receiving must be designed to work well in that environment.

With most mobile sites, the user is usually provided with key information that will entice them to access the full website, or a means of taking action to accomplish their goal. This can be something as simple as calling to set up an appointment, or to purchase goods and services.

Some facts about Stand-Alone Mobile Sites:

  • The mobile site is separate from your full site, with a unique URL and has its own set of files
  • Designs are typically not image heavy — if images are used, they are usually small in size and placed sparingly
  • Due to the nature of the tailored content, design and production time for mobile is typically less than a full site

Let’s look at a recent launch by Millennium for one of our clients, Equity Management. If we look at their full site, we can see it’s quite extensive, providing a great deal of information to the user.

For the mobile site, Equity decided the most important thing the wanted visitors to utilize was a search feature for their properties. The design of their mobile site focused on this desired goal, while maintaining the Equity brand:


The Equity Management mobile site utilizes a smart-phone Location Sharing feature that allows users to see which property is closest. This is something specific to mobile, because it utilizes a technology feature specific to this  medium. In addition, it also uses many recent advances in HMTL5 and CSS3 to provide a more tailored experience for the mobile user.

Option 2: Responsive Design

A more recent trend in the web/mobile design community, Responsive Design is based on a website being responsive to the device being used to view it.. Unlike a stand-alone mobile site, which is unique and separate from the full site,  a Responsive Design is one site with one set of code that changes orientation and layout based on the viewing device, such as PC, tablet, or smart-phone.

The main reason a company chooses a responsive design is the ability to provide the full range of site content, no matter the device. There is still a level of control as to what the mobile/non-desktop user will see, but usually this control is used for stylistic or functionality issues, such as providing a more mobile friendly navigation option.  Another benefit is brand integrity — a responsive site is one design served up to the viewer.  Some companies that are using responsive designs are SonyThe Boston Globe, & Grey Goose Vodka.

Some facts about Responsive Design:

  • One site, one design — the view is controlled by CSS3 Media Queries that detect the size of the viewing device
  • Site updates and content changes only need to be applied once
  • Typically*, the cost of a responsive site is comparable to that of creating a standard web site

Another recent launch by Millennium is the redesign of Topaz House which utilized a responsive design to help facilitate the clients wishes to have a full mobile friendly presence on the web.

A responsive design was chosen due to the size and scale of the content for this site. Unlike Equity, Topaz House is a single property website that primarily provides information about the property itself, as well as information about the surrounding area. This provided the perfect opportunity to include responsive design features into the redesign. If the site is viewed on a smart-phone the graphics and other bandwidth-intensive elements are not displayed. Also, new navigation menus are provided in both the header and footer that allow the user to navigate more easily in the smaller screen area.

In The End…

So which is “better”? The honest answer is, it depends. Choosing a mobile option is like choosing tires for your car: Do you plan on doing a lot of off-roading or trail riding? If so, your going to need a set of tires tailored to that. Slapping on a pair of all-season road tires probably won’t help you and might actually do more harm than good.

That’s where Millennium comes in –we’ll recommend the best mobile solution for your specific needs and goals.

Which Solution is Better
Image from Google Mobile Ads Blog

If you would like to know more about what we can do for your mobile presence, email or call us today: 301-725-8000.

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