Mobile-Friendly, Mobile-Optimized and Mobile-Responsive: What are Their Similarities and Differences?

It’s time to acknowledge the fact that Google algorithms are based exclusively on mobile usage. This is why a well-executed website design with easy navigation is crucial. Established companies across various industries and verticals are pushing towards creating or revamping a user-friendly site, because it affects gaining new customers and retaining existing ones. In not so many words, it’s their image and entire company’s performance on the line. But you needn’t take our word for it, because you can experience this first hand. 

When shopping around for a product or service, the first thing you probably do is look them up online, to check out their site and inform yourself about what they have to offer. Even websites affiliated and promoting other companies understand the importance of good user experience and an easy-to-navigate site. For example, the online gambling sector includes providers of the casino games as well as affiliated websites promoting many operators by offering fantastic deals to their visitors. NoDeposit.Guide is one such example of a well-established affiliate site offering no deposit bonuses and free spins. Once you visit it, you’ll soon realize how straightforward it is to navigate around whatever you’re looking for: be it finding out about top tier casinos, a no deposit bonus or even an informative guide on how to play at specific operators.

So, I hear you ask, is such a site mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized or mobile-responsive? Let’s go through the definitions of these three terms, which are often – mistakenly! – used as substitutes. 

What are the Characteristics of a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Being mobile-friendly simply means that the desktop version of a website is designed in such a way that it can be slimmed down to a small screen. Although it is accessible through a smaller screen, a mobile-friendly website does not uphold the same level of functionality and user experience as when it is accessed through a laptop or computer.

What’s more, a mobile-friendly website is Google’s minimum requirement, so this version will still rank much less than its mobile optimized or responsive counterparts. 

How can a website be mobile-friendly?

  • Font size should be at least 14pt or 16pt. Anything smaller than this would be difficult to read on a smartphone
  • Images should be small enough to load quickly on a smartphone, over a mobile internet connection
  • Certain effects, specifically the mouse-over effect that is common on desktop sites should be avoided, as it is difficult to navigate on a smart phone.
  • Page elements should be arranged in such a way that they don’t overlap when the page is shrunk down 
  • Elements are to be stacked on top of each other using a carousel with a horizontal scroll

What is Mobile-Optimization? 

This takes the characteristics of a mobile-friendly website one step further. In fact, a mobile-optimized website is not simply a shrunken down version of a desktop website, but is instead built using a mobile-first approach, meaning that the website is entirely designed for smart phone use. 

Therefore, whereas a mobile-friendly website is primarily designed for a larger screen and then adapted for a smaller screen, a mobile-optimized design works using the opposite approach. It is designed for mobile users first and foremost, using a format that’s optimized for the smallest screen size, which is then adaptable to larger screens like laptops or computer monitors.

What are the requirements for a mobile-optimized website? 

  • Single column layout
  • Simple and easy navigation that is thumb friendly
  • Little or no need for typing
  • Graphics that utilize white space borders
  • Minimalist overall design to reduce clutter
  • Smaller image file sizes for quicker load times

What is a Mobile-Responsive Design All About? 

This is the ultimate adaptive web design because it is not simply optimized for smaller screens in general, but it is responsive to the specific device being used. 

Therefore, while mobile-optimization is designed with mobile phones in mind, the idea behind a mobile-responsive design is for the website layout to adapt to any screen: from smaller screens of mobiles, tablets and small laptops to larger laptop screens and widescreen monitors. 

Thus, having a website that is mobile-responsive guarantees a level of adaptability that ensures the same aesthetic and functionality across any device whatsoever.

What makes for a mobile-responsive website?

  • Multiple breakpoints for web design

This means creating a design for all the points where your website’s layout will change. This defines how your website will be responsive and where the elements will move at each breakpoint.

  • Fluidity

We know that smaller screens require text to take up more vertical space so that everything else gets pushed down. Designing for fluidity and movement means that each element can easily move into a new place without affecting the layout quality.

  • No desktop or mobile-first approach

It doesn’t matter if your users are primarily using a desktop or mobile because the above qualities allow a mobile-responsive design to adapt to all screens, ensuring that the website functionality and design works optimally both on a large screen as well as a small one.

Finally, if you’re wondering whether having a mobile-friendly website suffices, or whether your particular website needs to be optimized or responsive, the answer really depends on the purpose of your website, the type of audience you are targeting and your budget. Needless to say, the closer you get to a mobile responsive design, the higher the cost will be. Nonetheless, depending on the purpose and target audience of your website, it might be enough to opt for a mobile-optimized or even a mobile-friendly design.

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