A mobile optimised web design is vastly different to a mobile responsive one. Both are accessed through the same root domain, however, the user-flow of each experience can be different altogether.
What is a mobile optimised website?
Mobile optimised websites are websites which are designed specifically for mobile device users. They are designed to make a mobile visitor’s experience a lot friendlier by allowing them to efficiently navigate and find their desired content faster.
Mobile optimised websites often come as a separate website altogether. For example, your main website may be accessed through www.example.com and your mobile optimised website automatically redirecting mobile device users to m.example.com.
Not all web design agencies design mobile optimised websites as a prerequisite. Meaning this is something that web design companies may charge extra for, as it involves them to essentially create and develop two different website designs altogether.
With that said, it’s not essential that every business needs a mobile optimised design. You should really only consider a separate mobile design if your website has lots of mobile and desktop users visiting it. Meaning a responsive website may just be enough, to begin with.
Implementing a separate mobile website
To implement a mobile optimised website, you must know what you’re doing, as it could damage your SEO if implemented incorrectly.
Google punishes websites which have duplicate content, meaning if you’re telling Google that you’ve got two websites with the same content (even on the same domain) — it may cause an issue.
To solve this, you simply need to tell Google that you’ve got a separate version of your website though canonical link tags, pointing back to the main URL of that specific page (the desktop version).
Consider accelerated mobile pages
Mobile optimised websites do have their benefits; they’re faster, more efficient and fast. However, accelerated mobile pages also do most of this. As a bonus, Google’s mobile results love them too.
What is a mobile responsive website?
A mobile responsive website is now the standard of modern web design. A responsive web design is a design which adapts to the size of any device using it accordingly.
The benefit of a responsive website is that it’s cheaper than getting a full design built, just for your mobile website. It’s also fluid and adaptive to almost any screen size. Meaning, if you’re using only half of your screen to view the website, you don’t have to scroll horizontally — everything’s adapted to your browser’s size. The same goes for height too.
Mobile optimised or mobile responsive, which to use?
Again, we would only recommend a mobile optimised website if you have a lot of mobile and desktop traffic. Or perhaps, your main website’s functionality is too complex for smaller screens and you need a separate design altogether.
If you are going for a mobile optimised website, we would also recommend your main desktop’s website be mobile responsive too. As, if the main purpose is to increase user-friendliness, it’s not user-friendly if your desktop website doesn’t adapt to a user’s browser’s size too.
To conclude: use the one(s) right for your visitors
If your website is mobile-friendly, then that’s great if it works for your visitors. Should, you require something more complex, just make sure your desktop website is responsive and your mobile optimised website is implemented correctly to avoid any SEO issues.
To test if your website is mobile-friendly, you should use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool.