The debate continues over which of the three methods of creating a mobile-ready website is the best one, responsive web design, dedicated mobile sites or responsive design and server side components. There are advantages and disadvantages for all three methods and I have listed some of these below:
Responsive Web Design (RWD)
The advantages for using this method is that the content and HTML markup is the same which provides all your users with a similar experience regardless of which device they are using. As more people become Smartphone owners using their phones to access the Web, content parity will become more important. A single URL for website pages in RWD makes it easier to link and share the content, needing no redirection on devices to obtain an optmised view.
However, the disadvantages are that the content isn’t fully optimized for mobile devices. Your website pages will contain the same content as the desktop PC unless you use a mobile-first approach. The average speed performance of a web page is approximately 1.3 MB and although it is possible to prevent unnecessary downloads using RWD, in reality the majority of responsive web design sites are much bigger or the same size, resulting in slower performance. Many mobile users perform different tasks to desktop users and unless the navigation is customized for each device, navigation problems can result in usability problems.
Dedicated Mobile Site
This is when a website is created for mobile users and when a desktop can redirect them to a sub domain. The advantages of a dedicated mobile site are that it is easier to make separate changes to the desktop and the mobile site. When creating the site for mobile devices loading times tend to be much faster, and navigation is much easier because the navigation structure and content is customized solely for the mobile users.
Redirection will add to the page loading time and is one of the disadvantages; also you would need multiple URLs for each page. The desktop users may click the link and get the mobile version resulting in SEO issues. Because the site is created specifically for mobile users, content and functionality could be cut out and as you will have two different sets of content and this could cause content strategy problems.
Responsive Design and Server Side Components (RESS)
This method of creating a mobile-ready website uses server-side programming to render custom CSS and HTML for different devices. Mobile users would get one set of codes, while desktop users would get a different set of codes. Navigation can be customized for mobile and desktop users. Faster loading time can be achieved by removing unnecessary Java Script from the HTML. Using RESS can you can reduce the data download and speed up the load time. One of the disadvantages is that you will need more server resources as this method increases the server load. Another is that mobile devices need to be detected and this can be unreliable.