The argument that won’t go away is still raging on. Just when it looks like there is a hard and fast reason to choose one over the other, another argument is made to suggest that it’s not.
As with every subjective argument, there is no winner here. Mobile versions of websites are good. Responsive designs are good. It comes down to what’s best for you. A guy like Brad Frost is a pioneer in responsive design and is going to jump to the defense of it every time. It’s time for designers, SEOs and everyone to put their knives away and start making choices based on what’s best for the situation.
There are boatloads of reasons to go for both options. Thinking about what is going to be the best for the situation is where to start. We’ve already argued vigorously over which CMS is best and the end result is, like this argument, whatever is best for the situation and choice of CMS plays a huge part in what’s going to be better for you. Some CMS have great responsive design functionality, some are terrible. Sometimes a mobile website is going to be better simply because you can offer the mobile user a COMPLETELY different experience. You might have distinct users on mobile vs. desktop and want to offer them a simplified version of your site.
Here are a few things to consider.
Can You Afford It?
Budget should be considered. If your client has less money now than they will later, maybe choosing to build them a mobile site next financial year is a better decision for them than wearing the sometimes high cost a responsive design can incur up front.
Can You Do It?
Many designers will overextend themselves on projects. This can end in tragedy. Know your limitations. If you aren’t experienced with responsive design don’t do it. Responsive designed websites are among the more complex development tasks you can engage in. So can mobile sites, depending on the CMS. Work with what you know and what you can.
What is it?
Some websites will naturally be better on one platform. Choose the right one for the purpose. If the website is going to be image, video and text heavy it usually presents better on a responsive design. If it’s a forum or tabbed app like website it will quite often be better to just have a mobile version.
Does your site require SEO? If so most consider responsive design to be the better option, including Google itself.
Choose wisely and opt out of the debate. If you weigh up these factors, you can be confident you’ve made the right call.