Mobile-Friendly vs Mobile-Responsive

A Comparison between Mobile-friendly and Mobile-responsive Designs

Do you know that in the first quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) were responsible for 51.92% of global website traffic? In fact, it has been quite some time since mobile web usage had surpassed desktop usage.

Do you know that in the first quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) were responsible for 51.92% of global website traffic? In fact, it has been quite some time since mobile web usage had surpassed desktop usage. If you want your website to reach enough people, you need to make sure your web design is compatible with mobile devices.


Image Source:

When it comes to deciding how you want your website to appear on mobile devices, you get a number of options. You can choose between mobile-responsive designs and mobile-friendly designs. Yes, they are different. However, if you cannot decide between the two, here is the comparison – mobile-friendly vs mobile-responsive designs – that may help you settle some of your doubts.

What Is a Mobile-friendly Website?

A mobile-friendly website is basically a desktop website that is modified to fit a user’s mobile device. In a lot of ways, a mobile-friendly site functions the same way for almost every device. Such designs do not change in terms of functionality other than the scale of the site.

Also, some of the features of the website, such as the navigation buttons may be limited as they can be difficult to perform on mobile devices. Such websites are also the same across the board, with no usability concerns irrespective of the device.

What Is a Mobile-responsive Website?

A responsive website changes its appearance based on the screen size of the device it is being used on. In fact, such web designs contain dynamic content that changes, as well as optimised images and correct spacing based on the device.

The functionality of such websites relies heavily on mobile operating systems. With such responsive designs, the texts and images on the web page change from a three-column layout to something that fits the user's device screen perfectly.

Interestingly, if you restore down the browser tab on your desktop, a responsive website will also change its display to match the window size.

Mobile-friendly Design Vs Mobile-responsive Design

As you may have guessed already, there are plenty of differences between mobile-friendly design and mobile-responsive designs. The major ones are listed below:

Mobile-friendly design

Mobile-responsive design

Such designs appear as a shrunk version of the actual desktop website on the device screen.

Such designs change significantly to adapt to the device screen.

Such web designs are static in their sizing and are customised for each screen size.

These web designs have dynamic content while changes as per the device screen size.

This type of design does not depend on the mobile operating system to function properly.

This form of design relies heavily on mobile operating systems to function.

The images simply display smaller on mobile devices.

The images are optimised to respond according to the screen size.

Such web designs offer rather simplified navigation on mobile devices.

Such web designs offer condensed navigation on mobile devices.

Websites with mobile-friendly design work the exact same way for all the devices.

Websites with responsive design changes based on the screen size of the device.


Even though mobile-friendly designs are a good option for several businesses, it is better to choose a responsive design for your website.

Why Is Mobile-responsive Design Better than Mobile-friendly Design?

As you may have already noticed, the responsive design has a number of advantages over a mobile-friendly design. If you could not identify them, let me list them out for you.

  1. Adaptability:

Responsive websites have the ability to adapt to any screen size. Now that there is no standard screen size for mobile devices, the websites need to rely on the adaptability of their design to work seamlessly on a variety of screen sizes. It is irritating to "pinch and zoom" the webpages on the devices for the users. With responsive designs, the webpages will automatically adapt to the screen size of the device.

  1. Lower maintenance:

When you opt for a responsive design for your website, you only have to manage and maintain one website. You do not need to develop different versions of the website for different screen sizes. With a responsive design, everything is stored in one place. When you make a modification to your site, it updates across all the devices. You don't need to update every single version of the website. Even though the set-up cost of responsive designs is higher than the mobile-friendly designs, you can save a lot on the maintenance cost.

  1. Smooth user experience:

Due to the adaptability feature of the responsive design, the user experience of a website is several times better than the ones with a mobile-friendly design. There are high chances that your customers will visit your website from different devices from time to time. If he/she does not get a seamless experience every time, you may lose the customer to a competitor. The responsive websites offer consistent performance, making the user experience seamless every time.

  1. Better search engine optimisation:

Whether you know this or not, Google has been putting more stress on the user experience of the websites while ranking them in the past few years. In fact, the introduction of mobile-first indexing has made it crucial for websites to improve their mobile version of the content for better indexing and ranking. The responsive websites comply with Google's best practices with more precision as the information is the same across all the devices.


Interestingly, a lot of websites find mobile-friendly designs useful for their business model. If you are also in two-minds, you can ask yourself these questions, and you will know which type of design is more suited for your business:

  • What is the purpose of the website?
  • What is the end goal of visitors to the website?
  • Which devices are the potential visitors likely to use while visiting the website?

If you don’t have a huge mobile audience, mobile-friendly design can be ideal for you as it has a lower set up cost. Also, having smaller images on the website will allow it to load faster.

Whatever you choose, you need to make sure that the user experience is good at your website. However, it is very clear that responsive design has an edge in today's date.


Author bio: Adam Rutherford is a web developer who works as a freelancer for different clients. He is also a subject matter expert at, where he offers assignment help to students on request. He also loves to play the guitar and play with his pet dog.

Write a Comment