3 Different Approaches of Mobile Websites

You must have heard about mobile websites or even browsed them before, but you may still wonder in which way to develop a mobile site for your business. We’re going to analyze the pros and cons for each of them.

Responsive Web Design (Media Query)

It means that web design is responsive, which changes its layout dynamically with your browser size. Most web designers use this method to manage mobile site layout since CSS3 is getting popular. I think it is fun to look at how the layout varies when browser size changes, but doesn’t mean it is the best option.


  • The easiest way to implement.
  • Visitors do not have to decide on the display content; your web designer formulate how your page looks on the browser according to its size.


  • Web page size is too large for mobile devices since most of them have slower internet connection speed.
  • You leave visitors no choice on how the page looks.
  • Require modern browsers which support CSS3 media query. Internet Explorer 6-8 do not support it.

A side note worth-mentioning is no one use Internet Explorer 6-8 on their mobile devices, so the last point isn’t a disadvantage, but I still have the responsibility to warn you about it.

Separate Mobile website

When you browse youtube.com on your mobile phone, they will redirect you to m.youtube.com automatically. Its mechanism is simpler and the buttons are larger, so you can load the page faster and click the link easier.


  • The web page size and content can be optimized to suit mobile device.
  • Visitors can choose to browse desktop version, so they can get what they want, even for those content contained only in desktop version.
  • It uses server-side script so it does not rely on JavaScript or media query, which means it works for all mobile web browsers.


  • complicated to build than the previous method, it requires more time and resources to develop and maintain.

Native Mobile App

It is an application that you can install on your mobile phone, e.g., iPhone app and Android app.


  • Native mobile app allows your customers to enjoy specific phone or tablet features, for example, GPS, so it is possible to show their distance to your store.
  • Your customers can see the icon of your mobile app, which reminds them about your business. As we all know, “Out of sight; Out of mind”.
  • Native mobile app loads even faster than separate mobile website, as we can use the default buttons from the phone and load less graphic from server. You can even store everything in your customers’ phone, so they can browse the content without internet connection.


  • The most expensive approach for mobile website
  • You have to test your application on different devices; there are tons of mobile phones and tablets. Not to mention manufacturers release new models every month.
  • Not everyone is using iPhone, some use Android Mobile, some use Blackberry, and some use Windows Mobile. There is a possibility that new operation system will release in the future.


Overall, we do not have a clear winner here; one-size-fit-all isn’t applicable for mobile website approach. Next time we will discuss when and which approach is the most appropriate.