Responsive design is definitely the most talked about web design method right now, especially when discussing designing for mobile. It isn’t the only option though. There are three real options currently and each has its own pros and cons to them. Choosing the way you interact with mobile customers should reflect the type of business you are running and what you hope to accomplish.
Responsive Design – Though it is well covered, responsive websites are those that adapt to different sized screens across all platforms, from mobile to tablet to desktop. The idea is that you only build one website for everyone rather than different sites for all different devices. That time you would have spent designing sites for different platforms will have to be spent testing your one site on all of the devices. It also removes some of the ability to customize sites for certain devices.
Mobile Sites – A mobile site is optimized for that specific section of on-the-go customers. The sites are usually minimal, with large, finger-friendly buttons, and they load faster than responsive sites. This allows more direct control of how sites appear on different devices, but more importantly, the content selected to appear is tailored for the mobile demographic accessing it.
Native Mobile Apps – If you own a smartphone, you know what an app is. They are specific to their platforms so they have the benefit of being able to curate mobile content like websites do while further focusing on the differing needs of different platform users.
All three have their merits. Responsive websites create a sense of consistency and deliver the full experience of a desktop website in an accessible form for a specific device. Some hail it as a time saver, which isn’t quite true, but it does allow you to spend equal time on a site for all devices. Mobile sites and apps load faster and cater to specific audiences, while allowing them to act immediately.
Diksha Arora compares the three against each other at Vandelay Design. If you don’t know what is best for your business, she can help you identify your needs.