Originally at https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/04/26/whats-the-difference-between-responsive-adaptive-and-mobile-friendly-sites/

Mobile adaptive sites and mobile responsive sights are the same, and both are synonyms for mobile-friendly… right? Not quite. Here’s a breakdown of the differences.

Last year, Google shook up the industry by switching up its mobile search algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites. A fairly self-explanatory term, “mobile-friendly” refers to, well, a site that works on the smaller screen of a mobile device.

Mobilegeddon was a natural response to the natural shift in people’s browsing preferences, which are increasingly moving toward mobile devices. In an uncharacteristically transparent move, Google let everyone know about the update nearly two months ahead of time, even including tips for increased mobile-friendliness: avoiding software like Flash, which isn’t common on mobile devices; text that’s big enough to be read without zooming; links and buttons spaced far enough apart to accommodate fingers.

But while it’s clear what constitutes a mobile-friendly site, there’s still a level of confusion around what makes a mobile-friendly site different from a mobile responsive site, and what makes that one different from a mobile adaptive site.

Friendly vs. Responsive

Mobile-friendly sites aren’t necessarily designed specifically for a mobile device. Rather, they’re versions of sites that work across different devices. Think of a mobile-friendly site as mobile-optimized, whereas a responsive site is mobile-first.

A site that’s mobile responsive changes – or responds – based on the device it’s viewed on. For example, a desktop site may have a multi-column layout, which a mobile-friendly site may have on a smaller scale so users can see everything without having to scroll. But a mobile responsive site will have a single-column layout that translates better to the smaller screen.

See how Spirit Airlines’ mobile website is just a smal…

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