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Which mobile-friendly web design strategy is right for you?

If you are about to start the process of creating a new mobile-friendly website, you might have heard the terms: ‘Responsive Web Design’, ‘Dynamic Serving’ and ‘Separate URLS’ bandied about: But what exactly is the difference between each of these methods and more importantly, which one is right for you?

Let’s take a look at each of the three different strategies and find out what makes them tick…

Responsive Web Design

This technique involves coding up a website in a clever manner which allows the site to react to the screen size that it is being displayed on.  The big advantage of this method is that only one set of HTML code is required, rather than having to load up separate ‘mobile’ and ‘desktop’ versions – and only one URL is required, since the site doesn’t need to redirect visitors to different versions: It is all about having one website and one set of code for all devices.

One of the reasons why Responsive Web Design (RWD) works so well is that the sizes and values of on-screen elements are determined by percentages (of screen width/height), rather than specific pixel values, meaning that rules can then be put in place for each element to ensure that the site remains usable when displayed at different sizes and proportions.

Out of all three methods listed here, RWD is usually the favoured strategy, since it results in less confusion and fewer compatibility issues, however, achieving true responsive design requires a skilled and experienced team – as well as a generous amount of time to fully test each aspect of the site and optimise it for use on all displays.

Mobile-Site: Dynamic Serving

This method of coding up a site involves using one single URL for the site, but different versions of HTML code, depending on the device type being used to access the site.

Mobile-Site: Separate URLS

In order for this technique to work, different versions of the website are first of all coded up (Typically these would be a ‘mobile’ version and a ‘desktop’ variant).  Each version of the site is then placed on a separate URL, with redirects being put in place to serve the most appropriate website version to specific device types.

Which of these strategies is best for you?

Deciding upon which strategy will work best for you should, technically, just be down to personal taste, since Google has stated that it will not favour any particular one of these formats – so long as its spiders can access all of your site assets.  That being said, however, in years gone by, putting websites on different URLS was notorious for generating ‘duplicate content’ issues, aside from the fact that it may be a little off-putting or confusing for your site visitors.

Ultimately, the choice is yours: However, the fact that Google often changes its algorithm up – combined with the ever-changing face of the web and the steadily increasing list of devices used to access websites, all point towards Responsive Web Design being the safest bet in most circumstances.

About Graham Lyons

Graham is the SEO and Social Media Marketing Manager at Cozy Digital and the editor of the Cozy Digital Blog as well as contributing content for most of our social outlets like Facebook, Twitter and G+. Graham has been working in, and writing for the SEO / SMM industry since 2001 and is still as dedicated and passionate today as he was when he opened his first Website Design, Ecommerce and SEO company in 2004. You can connect with Graham and Cozy Digital via the social media links below:

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