Responsive Design vs. Mobile Redirect

Author: Jack Martin

“Why do I have to choose between Responsive Design and Mobile Redirect?” one might ask. Responsive design and mobile redirect are two different versions of the same thing (basically). If you have a smartphone, tablet, and desktop computer all open to the same website at the same time with responsive design, the site will look different on each device. The site will condense, responding to the size of the screen. If you have the a website using mobile redirect open to these three different devices, the site will have the same layout on each device but site visibility of the site will change as the device being used decreases in size. What you see on a desktop computer will be more than what your phone screen can handle, on your mobile device you will have to scroll up, down and left, right in order to see the full site.

Now that we have gone over the basic differences, let’s delve deeper.

According to Search Engine Watch, “exclusively mobile users” are creeping up on “exclusively desktop users” when it comes to search engines. 46% of users exclusively use their smartphones or tablets to look up that burning question, while 49% exclusively use desktop computers. Pretty soon the majority of web traffic will come from mobile devices. We have all been the victim of a site that is incredibly difficult to navigate on a mobile device. Responsive design and mobile redirect are two very different options to utilize to make your site easier to navigate on a mobile device.

One website design that translates from mobile to desktop.

What is Responsive Design?

If a website has a responsive design, the aim is to create an ideal multi-platform user experience for features such as visual quality and easy navigation and reading. There is one website design that translates from mobile to desktop, etc. This is done using a fluid grid, flexible images, and CSS3 (Content Style Sheet) module that allows content to adapt to conditions on the current platform. In human words rather than robot terminology, this means that as the screen size gets smaller, the layout of the web page adjusts with the size of the screen, squeezing smaller and smaller and becoming a longer page, as if you are folding a piece of paper “hot dog style”.

And how does Mobile Redirect differ from that?

If you have a smartphone or have looked over the shoulder of a smartphone user, chances are you have witnessed a mobile redirect firsthand. A box pops up mid-load and asks the user to “Press ‘OK’ to be redirected to the mobile page or ‘Cancel’ to continue”. If you press okay, you are taken to a site made separately and specifically for a mobile device. If you press cancel you proceed to the desktop version of the website that does not fit your mobile device. Mobile redirect means that developers must create two or more different sites in order to fit in to this multi-platform world. The URLs as well as the site layout are different depending on the platform.

There are, of course, pros and cons to both responsive web design andmobile redirect.

Here at Keystone Click, we utilize responsive design because we believe that the pros greatly outweigh the cons. The fact that responsive design is shareable, performs well for SEO and tracking purposes, easy to maintain, and creates a fluid user experience outweighs the fact that responsive design is a new concept that can be technically difficult for some. Responsive design takes more front-end coding but translates easier in the end.

Pete Cashmore from is on board, stating that 2013 is the year of responsive design. As multi-platform user experience takes off, so will responsive design.

But for many, separate mobile and desktop websites is the way to go in order to optimize the function of your mobile site by getting rid of features mobile users may not need and creating a unique experience for your mobile users. Some developers even choose to work with both, if different aspects of their website would work for one option and not the other, and vice versa.

Based on what you now know of responsive design and mobile redirect, what are your thoughts? Comment below with opinions or feedback.