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Responsive or Dedicated Mobile Sites


Recently more and more people are using their mobile devices to browse the Internet. With this in mind, it’s becoming increasingly important for organisations to provide users with the best mobile browsing experience. There are two common types of mobile site designs, responsive and dedicated.

Responsive websites

Responsive websites are sites that control the layout and content depending on the screen size they detect.


  • All the site content is in one place so no need to create duplicate content for a separate mobile website.
  • It will be future friendly. The responsive design means the site will be scalable to deal with any screen size that comes its way.
  • Lowers the need for a dedicated app as the site is already designed to display optimally for all viewports and displays.


  • All those lovely full-screen images and signposts are still being downloaded at full resolution on mobiles. So in situations where fast mobile isn’t available, the user is going to be looking at a blank page for a long time.
  • From a design perspective, the initial wireframing has to consider multiple breakpoints and design variations.

Dedicated Websites

Dedicated mobile sites are websites that are specifically built for mobile devices. A server decides what type of device you are using and points you to the appropriate website. 


  • They usually load faster than responsive sites. Images can be optimised for mobile viewing.
  • Development is often cheaper because it doesn’t need to be broken down into multiple layout versions.
  • The site can be developed specifically for touch and swipe controls in mind, creating a richer and more intuitive experience for the user. 


  • Separate sites mean separate URLs. So the mobile site will have to be optimised separately to the desktop site. 
  • Replacing and updating content in multiple locations doubles the workload of the people managing and updating the site. 
  • The mobile site may look and feel a little different to the desktop site

As we have seen, there are positives and negatives points for using both types of designs. For me, it depends on the website I’m designing and understanding exactly what my client wants from their mobile site, as well as the nature of their business.  

Ecommerce sites for instance are often better suited to dedicated, because they’re usually complex and image heavy. That’s not to say you can’t use responsive design with Ecommerce sites. With the advancements of plugins that only load information when you need it (some of you may know this as lazy loading), you can easily go full responsive without worrying about ‘whiting out’ the screen – but at the cost of more JavaScript mark-up. 

So which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below. 

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