Don’t Be Fooled: How to Spot the Difference Between Responsive Websites and Mobile Optimized Websites

Responsive-versus-mobile
With mobile traffic simply exploding over the last few years, mobile website design has become a huge concern for many businesses, especially those in the travel industry. But, there are so many terms floating around that it is easy to get them mixed up.

In this post, we’re going to explain the difference between some of the major terms that are often used (or misused) to describe different types of websites that cater to guests on mobile devices. In short, today we’re going to talk about the difference between mobile optimized websites and responsive design websites.

Both types of websites attempt to accomplish the same goal of giving visitors to their websites a great experience regardless of the device they’re using. They just accomplish this differently, and with varying degrees of success.

Let’s start by talking about what each is. Then, we’ll talk about the key differences, and finally we’ll show you some side by side examples.

Mobile Optimized Websites

Mobile-Website-2015Mobile optimized websites were the first come on the scene (we started offering mobile websites more than three years ago). These websites are geared primary for smart phones and smaller tablets. They are generally built entirely separate from your traditional website.

The strategy with mobile websites is to use your traditional website for desktops, laptops and larger tablets, and to show your mobile optimized website to people on smart phones and smaller tablets. So, when someone hits your website, your website will determine what type of device they are on and show them either the mobile website or the regular website.

Responsive Websites

Responsive

Responsive websites are much newer and now considered a best practice for all new website designs moving forward. But, they’re much harder to pull off for a web designer than a mobile website. They’re also much tougher to integrate into content management systems. Here’s why. A responsive website is shown to all of your guests no matter what device they are on. It’s the website itself that changes. Elements of the website will dynamically adapt to look perfect no matter what device you are on.

They work by querying what size your screen is and then displaying the website to fit that screen. To accomplish this, web designers have to style for four different ranges of screen size to make sure the website displays perfectly on all devices. Essentially, instead of building four different websites to accommodate four different screen size ranges, responsive websites handle every device with one website.

The Advantages of Responsive Design

While most mobile optimized websites will work just fine for many people, there are some strong advantages of responsive websites that make them better. These advantages become more and more important as mobile device usage become more prolific. Here are just a few of those advantages:

  • Responsive websites look better across all devices because they offer a higher range of adaptability. It’s the difference between one website with styles for four screen sizes or the option of just seeing a regular website or a separate mobile optimized site.
  • For the most part, responsive websites will keep all of your content and pages. Many mobile optimized websites will exclude content (and even entire pages) that are found on your regular site. This raised concerns with Google, which until recently indexed only the main websites. In some cases Google would serve up a page in search results that had valuable information on the main site, but that page or that information was not available to the searcher when they clicked through the search result to the page on their smart phone.
  • Consequently, Google favors responsive websites to mobile optimized websites. But, they still highly favor and reward mobile optimized websites over websites that are not mobile friendly at all. In Google’s eye, responsive is best, but mobile optimized still meets its requirement and is way better than websites that aren’t mobile friendly.
  • Responsive websites also save you time because you are only managing content on one website. Because a mobile optimized website is actually an entirely different website than your regular website, albeit with very similar content, you actually have to manage and host two separate websites. Now, if both your regular website and your mobile optimized website are connected to a central content management system (like LiveRez’s are), management of content becomes much easier.

Spotting the Differences

Because responsive design is the newer, hotter trend (and a best practice), a number of technology companies in the vacation rental industry want to claim that their mobile optimized websites are really responsive. Rather than just taking their word for it, you should learn to spot the differences. The great thing is that if you know what you’re looking for, the differences are pretty easy to spot.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a mobile optimized set-up (regular site + mobile site) and a responsive design set-up. We’ll show you both the home page and a search results page at different sizes and then what they actually look like on a smart phone (in this example, we’re using a Samsung Galaxy S6).

Side-by-Side Comparison

Full Sized

Here are two websites — one responsive and one mobile optimized — at full width on a desktop. As you can tell, they both look good. But, they were both designed to look good at this size.

Full-Sized-Mobile

Half Sized (about Tablet Size) 

Here they are with the browser shrunk to about the size of a tablet. The responsive site still looks great, but the mobile optimized site is starting to display weird in spots. See how the booking box is moving over the navigation bar and the smaller images below? The properties still display okay in search results, but look at how much smaller they are than in the responsive website.

Just click on the image to view it full size.

Smart Phone Sized

Since you don’t always have time to check out a website on your phone (and you need to do this to really tell if a website is responsive), here are both of the websites with the browser shrunk down to about the size of a smart phone.  On the mobile optimized website, things are really starting to go wrong. The booking box is way out of place, and big parts of the page are missing, like most of the navigation bar and most of the text. And, on the search results page, you can’t even see the search results.

In comparison, the responsive website still looks great. The elements are now re-arranged to look great on the smaller page, and all the information on both pages is still there. The nav bar is still there, too. Everything is the same. The display of the content has just adapted to respond to the screen size.

Now, to be fair to the maker of the mobile optimized site, they were never intending for people with devices this small to actually get this version of the website. As you’ll see in the next section, people actually accessing this site on a smart phone are shown a different, mobile-optimized site.

However (and here’s the sticking point), to call the website below on the right a responsive website just simply wouldn’t be true. 

Mobile-Small

On Actual Smart Phone

Here are the websites side by side on the new Samsung Galaxy S6.  You’ll notice that the mobile optimized site has now switched to its mobile version, where the responsive website is showing pretty much the same content as when you shrunk down the browser. The big difference here is that the mobile optimized site is now missing a lot of the content it was showing on the home page.

Just click on the image to view it full sized.

Conclusion
Now that you know the difference between responsive design and mobile optimized, you’ll know for sure what you are getting when someone is trying to sell you a new site. But, if you have any further questions on the differences between responsive design and mobile optimized sites, feel free to give us a call at (800) 343-2891. We’d be happy to help.

Learn More About LiveRez
LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Why Vacation Rental Managers Need a Mobile Website Before April 21

Mobile Websites for Vacation Rental Managers - Infographic

Click on the image above to learn how our mobile websites have helped our vacation rental manager partners.

They’re calling it the mobile apocalypse.

In February, Google, the world’s top search engine and No. 1 trafficked site, announced a ground-breaking update to their search algorithm that will go into effect April 21, 2015. And, if you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you need to pay attention.

Google’s goal is to provide the best experience to its users. When people do a search for something on their mobile phone, they don’t just need the best results, but the best results displayed and accessible in the most convenient way. And, if you’ve ever tried to access a website that isn’t mobile friendly on your smart phone, you know how frustrating it can be.

So, while the first part of Google’s algorithm uses a variety of signals to reward relevant, quality content, the second part of the algorithm is about the presentation of this content. So, if you have great content but people are having a hard time viewing it and interacting with it, you are underserving the user. And if the goal of Google’s algorithm is to connect people to websites offering the best user experience, it makes sense for them to send people to websites that satisfy both of these goals.

This being said, on April 21 Google will start labeling websites as mobile friendly or mobile unfriendly and using this rating as signal for ranking these websites in mobile search results.

The Jist: If you don’t have a mobile friendly website, don’t expect Google to send many mobile searchers to it.

Check out this short video from LiveRez VP of Sales and Marketing Tyler Hurst to learn more.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Right now you might be asking what the fuss is all about. It’s just mobile traffic.

Well, in the last few years mobile traffic has absolutely exploded, and the experts don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. At LiveRez, over the past few years we’ve seen our property manager partners’ mobile traffic increase from as little as 5% to as high as 35 or 40%, and it goes up every year. We’ve also found that partners that have a mobile website are more than 270% more likely to get a booking when someone accesses their site on a mobile device than if they didn’t have a mobile website.

Mobile websites are no long just something nice to have, they’re now expected by your guests. And, as you can tell by its most recent update, Google now expects it too.

What Can I Do?

Well, the first thing you need to do is determine whether or not your website is mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes. And with their mobile friendly testing tool, Google’s made it extremely simple. All you need to do is enter in your URL and hit analyze. Google will let you know within seconds if your website is mobile friendly or not.

Click here to test you website >

The next step would be to implement a mobile website, if you haven’t already. LiveRez partners will have it easier than other managers. While many of our partners have already adopted mobile websites, we can help those that haven’t very quickly. Just give our professional services team a call at (800) 343-2891 Option 4.

If you’re not using LiveRez, your software or website provider might have a solution. Surprisingly, though, we’ve found that many don’t have a solution in place for their users. In that case, give us a call at (800) 343-2891 Option 1 and we’d be happy to talk with you about the benefits of our all-in-one solution. Our implementation team is the fastest and most thorough in the industry, and we can get you up and running in no time at all.

Learn More About LiveRez
LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Watch Now: The LiveRez Tools That Will Boost Your Bottom Line

LiveRez-Tools-WebinarLiveRez’s webinar from Nov. 19 on “The LiveRez Tools That Will Boost Your Bottom Line” is now available to watch online.

The LiveRez software is packed with a wide variety of tools to accelerate your bookings, increase your operational efficiency and ultimately boost your bottom line. And in this webinar, LiveRez Director of Sales and Marketing Tyler Hurst goes over a number of ways LiveRez helps you achieve success.

The full webinar is embedded below.

To see more LiveRez webinars and register for upcoming live webinars, make sure to check out our Webinars Page.

Learn More About LiveRez
LiveRez is the most widely used software platform for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation and property management, websites with online bookings, trust accounting, CRM, housekeeping and maintenance, reporting, reviews and more. LiveRez is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Infographic: Why You Need a Mobile Version of Your Vacation Rental Website

LiveRez recently released an infographic detailing the need for mobile websites and outlining the success its partners are having after launching mobile versions of their respective websites.

The infographic (included below) shows that on average about 20% of the traffic LiveRez partners are getting is coming from smart phones. It also shows that, on average, partners with mobile versions of their websites are getting nearly three times more mobile bookings than partners that do not have a mobile website.

One LiveRez partner, Vicki Swigart of Red River Real Estate, calculated her first-year return on investment at nearly 900 percent.

And the exciting thing about these booking numbers is that they only account for bookings that were completed on mobile devices. The numbers don’t account for bookings where travelers did their initial research on their mobile device and then completed their booking over the phone or from a laptop or desktop. That process is much harder to track. But, if you could quantify those additional bookings, the numbers would likely be even more impressive.

To learn more about LiveRez mobile websites, visit LiveRez.com/mobile or call us at (800) 343-2891.

Mobile-Info-Graphic-Final

Learn More About LiveRez
LiveRez is the fastest growing vacation rental software provider for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation management, trust accounting and online marketing, with high-ranking, high-conversion dynamic websites and an extensive affiliate marketing program. The company is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).

Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:

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Please consider “liking” it and sharing it on your social media channels via the buttons below. You can also follow us and get notifications of all new posts via the “Follow” button Follow Us in the bottom right-hand part of the screen.

LiveRez Adds Google Places Integration to its Mobile Websites

LiveRez recently added a new “What’s Nearby?” feature to its mobile websites. Through an integration with Google Places, this new feature allows guests to search for and find places nearby when they are on vacation, whether it be a restaurant, a gas station, a park or more.

Just click on the “What’s Nearby?” button.

Google Places for Mobile Websites for Vacation Rentals Continue reading