Adaptive Mobile Websites

Wait, doesn't Google prefer Responsive websites? Read on...

If you’ve been doing your research and looking for the best mobile solution, you’ve likely come across the Google Developers Mobile Guide which discusses their recommendations for mobilizing a website. In their documentation, they define and discuss Responsive Web Design:

Responsive web design (RWD) is a setup where the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device.

-Google Developers, Responsive Web Design

RWD has become commonly known as a design technique for building websites that expand, contract, and rearrange elements to accommodate the viewer’s screen size, but that’s only one example of Responsive Web Design.

JavaScript Adaptive

By adding JavaScript to RWD, we create an adaptive mobile website which can load faster and provide enhanced mobile-native features, including click-to-call, GPS integration, and swipeable photo galleries. This custom, mobile-optimized experience goes beyond what’s commonly referred to as RWD and leads to increased page views, increased time on site, decreased bounce rates and - most importantly - increased mobile conversion rates.


In this configuration, a URL serves the same contents (HTML, CSS, Javascript, an image) to all devices. Only when the JavaScript is executed on the device is the rendering or behavior of the site altered. This is similar to how responsive web design, using CSS media queries, works.

...our algorithms can detect this setup automatically. Further, this configuration does not have a requirement for the Vary HTTP header because the URLs of the page and its assets do not dynamically serve content. Because of these advantages, if your website requires the use of JavaScript, this is our recommended configuration.

- Google Developers, Responsive Web Design

Mobile Optimized, Mobile Fast

JavaScript-adaptive mobile websites offer all of the benefit of RWD with the added benefits of the ability to limit the mobile device from downloading unnecessary assets, adaptively resizing images, decreasing page load times and giving complete control over the appearance of the mobile site. These adaptive mobile sites are traditionally harder to develop as they require a deep understanding of JavaScript, making them a less commonly found development option. However, they can be implemented without making any changes to the desktop site, are generally less expensive than a fluid RWD, and will provide more long-term ROI through greater mobile conversion rates.

Single URL

Whatever configuration you choose, as an underlying principle we strongly recommend that you serve all your sites from a single domain, like

- Google Developers, Building Websites for the Multi-Screen Consumer

Both responsive and adaptive mobile websites will keep your users at the same URL, regardless of the device they are on. This eliminates potential problems with analytics tracking, security certificates, end-user confusion and social sharing. No more clicking that pesky m-dot link from Facebook when you’re on your computer and having to find your way out of a stretched-out, scaled-down mobile site. Give your users the right experience, every time, without fail.

More than "Mobile Friendly"

Just in case you started your search for mobile thinking that “mobile-friendly” tag was all you needed to maintain your mobile search ranks, here’s some more from Google:

Mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results.

- Google Developers, Understand Key Points in Going Mobile

While pursuing a mobile solution for your website, it’s important to keep in mind the goal of every mobile-friendly site: providing the best user experience. With fast load times, mobile-specific features, design flexibility, and seamless integration with the desktop site, an adaptive mobile website offers the best of both worlds – the desktop experience with complete mobile accessibility. The result is a content-rich mobile site that preserves and boosts your mobile SEO, but more importantly meets the needs and demands of your market and supports the growth of your business online.

How well does my website work on mobile?

Our mobile analysis will check with Google to see if your website is mobile friendly and mobile fast. Based on those results, we'll give you specific feedback on how to improve your website's mobile performance.

Discover why mobile matters