Mobile Friendly vs. Mobile Optimized vs. Responsive Design: What’s The Difference?

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Mobile Friendly vs. Mobile Optimized vs. Responsive Design

People in the digital marketing industry often use various terms interchangeably without understanding where those terms actually came from. It’s currently 2020, and mobile websites have been the main focus of web developers and website owners for almost a decade now.

Despite the fact that the “mobile web” has more or less become a staple of our lives, many people don’t know the difference between “mobile friendly” design, “mobile optimized” design, and “responsive” design. We at SEO Guru Atlanta are at your service to help reduce the confusion!

Mobile Friendly vs. Mobile Optimized vs. Responsive Design

What Is Mobile Friendly Design?

Mobile-friendly design is not really a design philosophy, nor does it have a specific goal in mind. When someone (say, Google) refers to a “mobile-friendly” website, they mean that it has the bare minimum requirements to be usable on a mobile device.

Mobile-friendly refers to a website’s usability, rather than functionality. Generally speaking, mobile-friendly websites are not designed with “mobile first” in mind, and are instead made to work on both desktop and mobile without changing much (or anything) about the design or website flow.

What Is Mobile Optimized Design?

Mobile optimized design, on the other hand, reflects a “mobile first” design philosophy. People who develop mobile websites do so with a strict focus on mobile users. This, of course, doesn’t mean the website is unusable on desktop. You can say that a mobile-optimized site that also works on desktop without changing many elements of the design is “desktop-friendly, but mobile optimized”.

Mobile optimized design has the goal of being as fast as possible, as easy to use as possible, and as fluid as possible when the website is viewed on a mobile device. A mobile optimized website should be intuitive for any mobile user to navigate and use, and all functionalities should be available for mobile users.

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive design reflects a different design philosophy altogether. Designers of responsive websites aim to make their website usable on any common device, regardless of screen size. Someone using an iPhone, an iPad, and an iMac should be able to do the same things on the website, even if the website looks different.

The most common example of responsive design in action is when top navigation bars (on desktop) are replaced with click-to-open navigation menus on mobile. This is done because top navigation bars are easy to see on desktop but are often clunky on mobile.

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