Responsive – adaptive – mobile friendly: are they all the same?

You may have heard of mobile adaptive sites and mobile responsive sites and assumed they are the same; however, this is not the case. Here are the differences between the two.


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Google’s changes

Mobile-friendly may or may not be a term you are familiar with; either way, it simply refers to a website that works well on the smaller screen of a mobile device. Google made some changes last year to its algorithms so that mobile searches would favour mobile-friendly sites.

The browsing preference of the public is shifting rapidly towards mobiles, with Google making it clear two months before its algorithm changes what would be required. For friendliness towards mobile devices, websites were advised to steer clear of features such as small text that requires zooming in to read, buttons and links that are difficult to press due to spacing, and software such as Flash that is not popular on mobiles. You can run a test to see how mobile friendly your design is.

Responsive vs friendly

Simply put, a mobile responsive site is designed with mobile devices in mind. First and foremost, mobile devices are best for viewing these sites.

Mobile friendly sites are designed to work on traditional computer-based web browsers but are also designed with mobile devices in mind, working effectively on both.

A mobile friendly site may have multiple columns that display well on a desktop device, for example, but are also easily viewed on a mobile without the need for zooming or scrolling. In the same scenario, a mobile responsive site would be more likely to have a single column, which is more effective on a mobile device.


For a business that is not built around the mobile industry, it makes sense to go with a mobile friendly site to enable your customers to use your site from desktops and on the go. It can be beneficial to consult a reputable SEO Agency in Dublin or elsewhere, such as, which will have the technical know-how to get your site up to speed and compatible with all devices.


Responsive sites rely more heavily on mobile operating systems and using the information available, such as location. Navigation is also easier, with well-spaced buttons that are much easier to press on a mobile than a small text link.