What are a few of your favorite industry buzzwords? Can you replace any of these words with other buzzwords? Does this mean that similar buzzwords have the same meaning? Maybe it does, maybe it does not… It really depends on this situation.

This isn’t necessarily bad; in fact, it’s a sign that the digital space continues to shift and evolve! Because there isn’t a single governing body, per say, to define these terms (buzzwords) absolutely, it’s up to us to decide what they mean. It’s also important for all business stakeholders, including employees, executives, clients, and vendors, to be on the same page when it comes to terminology.

Over the last few weeks I have researched and wrote about mobile platforms, development, and cloud computing. I came across the phrases  “mobile-ready,” “mobile-friendly,” “mobile-optimized,” and “mobile responsive” more than a couple of times. These phrases appeared to be interchangeable (and I used them as so) until I did a bit more digging to make sure I was using the correct word to describe SmartFile’s soon-to-be-released new user interface.

What I learned in trying to define each of the following mobile terms is that there will never be a textbook-perfect definition (which really drives my Type A personality crazy). That’s okay, though; we don’t have to have the exact same definition but we should all speak the same mobile language.

And now, without further ado, here are my definitions for “mobile” terms.

Definition of Terms

Mobile-ready: speaks to a website’s potential (or lack of potential) to serve a mobile audience. There are some great online tools to help you determine a site’s “mobile readiness”, such as mobiReady.

  • Another way to think about it: when TVs used to say they were “HD ready”, it meant that the TV could receive an HD signal if you had the correct tuner.

Mobile-friendly: means that a website will work on a mobile device. The user will be able to view it, type and search, etc.

  • A mobile-friendly website means that the site was designed for desktop users and will work acceptable for the mobile crowd.

Mobile-optimized: refers to a website that was designed specifically for mobile users. A mobile-optimized site will differ significantly from the desktop version.

  • Designed for small screens and using a single column layout.
  • Feature simple navigation with reduced clutter.
  • Often contain fewer features than the desktop version.

Mobile-responsive: is a website that simply “responds” to the viewing device by showing a different sized layout based on screen size. Desktop and mobile users will see the same thing.

  • Re-size your browser window on a desktop or laptop and you will see how the layout shifts to accommodate the viewing size of the screen.

These mobile terms and definitions aren’t necessarily perfect, and certainly are not “official.” I would love to know how you define each of these four terms, either personally or at your organization. Please share your definitions, and discuss mine, in the comments below.

Image Credit: Flickr, Stephen Geyer

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About Leah Beatty

I am the Communications Manager at SmartFile. What I lack in technical programming knowledge I make up in gumption (or so I've been told). I'm a total geek for social media and marketing with a background in SEO and content. I also have one of the most extensive .gif collections this side of the Mississippi.

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