Responsive Design and Mobile Companion Sites: What’s the difference?

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As you’ll see on our page for Responsive Design page and our previous post, making your site functional for mobile access is now a vital piece of functionality to any website today. Though it’s possible you’ve heard of these phrases before, many still may not be familiar with what the differences actually are, and what they mean. Our page can be visited to learn about the topic in greater, more detailed description, but for now, let’s discuss the difference between the two options.

Mobile-Friendly: Mobile Companion and Responsive

One point of confusion may be this: if all of these important changes are for mobile-friendly sites, then what’s so special about responsiveness? Is responsive the same thing as a mobile companion?

While responsive websites are mobile-friendly, the inverse is not necessarily true – you can create a mobile site that is not responsive. And until recent times, this has largely been the case – thanks to mobile companion sites.

Mobile Companion

A mobile site refers to another version of your website, one more appropriate for your device. In other words, you could consider this a case of two websites working side-by-side: both the “regular” site, and a copy more appropriate for a mobile screen.

Responsive Design

Responsive, on the other hand, reflects its name. These sites are constructed in such a way as to accommodate different screens or devices without having to resort to an entirely new screen or outlook. There’s no need to worry about what’s being used to visit the site, it will respond in a fitting manner.

If you’ve visited our portfolio, you may have noticed our system of showing sites reflected on various devices. To use a specific example, let’s look at the Indiana Eastern Railroad site. In each device, you can tell this is the same site, but made to fit. In fact, in the case of the cell phone, you can see the table for “Our Services” changed to one item per row – a better fit for the smaller screen. You can even change the size of your browser – depending on how much space there is, the site will readjust itself to fit.

Additionally, responsiveness has a helpful side effect: since there’s only one site to maintain, your information and visits are all contained within the same site, rather than being split in two. This helps with search engines, and can result in an even higher ranking than if you’ve used a mobile-friendly site!

Does This Mean I Should Only Choose Responsive Designs?

Not necessarily! Both methods are still valid. While responsive does have greater benefits, a companion site still works as an alternative for a lower price. Additionally, the nature of your site may result a lower rate of mobile visitors than average, making the cheaper option more viable. Responsive is often the recommended way to go, but many people have different needs. Mid America Web is here to help determine the right option for you.