The Downside to Responsive Web Design | Michigan Web Design | Artonic
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Mobile site design has exploded over the last year, and it’s no wonder why.  With millions of cell phone users in the US alone, more and more people are accessing the web via their smartphones and tablets than ever before.  This mobile surge has been met with two types of mobile site designs:  Responsive Design and Mobile Specific Site Design.

Responsive design is site design that resizes to fit a multitude of screen sizes, including desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.  A mobile specific site, on the other hand, is designed exclusively for mobile phones.

At Artonic, we have fully supported mobile specific sites over responsive design.  Although not everyone agrees, a growing number of experts have come to realize that the best mobile user experience is found on a mobile specific site.  Forbes posted an article stating, “Responsive design… may not represent the best option for organizations aiming to deliver unique and innovative experiences to customers.”  We agree, and we’ll tell you why.

The Downside to Responsive Web Design:

1.  When you access a site from a mobile device, you are, most likely, on a slower data network.  As a result, the website takes longer to download.  Even though a user views only a small portion of the website through a responsive design, the entire site still has to be downloaded.  Slow load time equals unhappy visitors, and unhappy visitors leave.

2.  Responsive design doesn’t allow complete control and flexibility of the layout and user experience on a mobile device.   Instead, responsive design is a “one size fits all” option.  A mobile device offers very small screen real estate, and it’s got to count.  Responsive design doesn’t make good use of layout and prime site real estate for mobile users, because it’s not specifically designed for mobile users.  It’s designed for the desktop first, and then squished down to work on a mobile device.

The Upsides to Mobile Specific Sites:

On the flip side, a mobile specific site handles these issues wonderfully.

1.  A mobile site is designed to load quickly on a mobile phone, which is imperative to keeping and converting visitors.  73% of mobile internet users say they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.  How long is too long?  6 to 10 seconds, according to a study conducted by Kissmetrics.  What do these visitors do when greeted by a slow loading site?  They leave, which is exactly what you don’t want them to do.

2.  A mobile specific site is designed distinctly for mobile users.  This means the site layout, load time, and content are all created to meet the needs of mobile users.  When designing a mobile site, ask yourself, “What does the mobile user want?”  The answer is unique to mobile users vs. desktop users.  Mobile users want less information and they want it quickly.  They’re looking for location, operating hours, social networks.  They want the site to fit the screen size of their mobile device, and they want large buttons that are easy to tap.  This differs from what a desktop user seeks, which is why the design of a traditional site should differ from the design of a mobile site.  Mobile users have specific needs and therefore, require a specific site design.


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