M.dot vs. Responsive vs. Progressive: What’s the Right Solution for Your Company?

This post was updated on August 19, 2016.

You’ve heard these mobile optimization terms being thrown around – m.dot, responsive, progressive – but what do they really mean? And what solution is right for your company?

Each solution has advantages and disadvantages. We’ll break down all three to highlight the features and best use case for each to help you decide what makes the most sense for your company. 




URLMinimum of of two URLsOne URLOne URL
PerformanceSlower initial load times due to redirect Absence of proxy server results in faster performanceSingle page app results in 2-4X faster performance than responsive or m.dot websites
App-like featuresDoesn’t support app-like features on mobile webDoesn’t support app-like features on mobile webSupports app-like features on mobile web (Fullscreen mode, Home screen icon, Offline mode, web push notifications)


AKA: Dedicated/Separate Mobile Site, m-dot

The m.dot site is the industry’s first generation mobile solution. When people began using their smartphones to browse online, websites were very slow and sometimes completely non-functional. To solve this issue, retailers began creating m.dot versions of their websites so that when a user tried to visit the website on their mobile device, they would be automatically redirected to the m.dot site. This is usually a stripped-down version of the desktop site with simpler navigation, less content and fewer pages.



  • Separate entity – need to spend the time and resources to manage two websites
  • Slower initial load times due to redirect – doesn’t allow for perfectly live content as the requests need to go back and forth between an intermediary server
  • SEO compliance issues – Google doesn’t like redirects
  • Social sharing issues – if you share a link from your mobile device and a friend then clicks that link from their desktop, they will be taken to the mobile website

M.dot sites were a good solution back when mobile browsing first became popular, but it is now considered an outdated technology which doesn’t effectively improve the user experience or online conversions. Even when a m.dot site is available, 35% of users will still choose to visit the full site when given the option. One study found that mobile users actually spent more money on the full site, 79% of mobile-generated revenue came from customers using the full site as opposed to the m.dot site.


AKA: Responsive Web Design, RWD

Unlike an m.dot site, a responsive site uses the same URL and serves the same content across all devices. CSS media queries are used to change the view and order of the content depending on the screen size of the device. Taking a mobile-first approach to responsive web design can lead to a cleaner and faster performing mobile website. However, this could mean that your site isn’t optimized for desktop or tablet since responsive limits you to one template across all devices.


  • All content is served from a single URL so the content fits any screen size
  • One codebase – easier to maintain and update
  • Improved SEO – single URL for desktop and mobile improves ranking in Google’s search algorithm
  • Social sharing – single URL makes it easier to share across devices
  • Best foundation for Progressive Mobile


  • Doesn’t support app-like speed and experiences 
  • New codebase – building this from the ground up requires development time and upfront costs
  • One template – requires additional work and tools to optimize each version of the website for conversions

Responsive web design is a sophisticated mobile solution which can create beautiful mobile websites. Responsive web design doesn’t give you the flexibility to optimize each version for online conversions, but if that’s the ultimate goal of your website, it’s a good place to start.


AKA: Progressive Mobile, Progressive Mobile Web

New web solutions are emerging to leverage new mobile functionalities, meet evolving customer expectations, and address the limitations of traditional responsive web design. A progressive approach is leading this evolution as mobile web and apps converge. Progressive Mobile websites combines the premium user experience of an app with the reach of the web, by bringing app-like speed, navigation, and interactions to the mobile web.

Progressive Mobile leverages responsive web design techniques to seamlessly operate across all mobile screens, and for those who’ve already gone responsive, it simply layers on top of existing responsive sites to optimize them for performance (2-4X faster) and deliver app-like experiences on the mobile web.


  • Bring the enhanced experience of an app to your larger web user base
  • App-like performance – 2-4X faster than traditional responsive or m.dot websites
  • App-like features: full-screen mode, high-speed performance, offline mode and the ability for customers to add a homescreen icon to their device
  • Content is served from a single URL and can be optimized for specific screens
  • Improved SEO – single URL for desktop and mobile improves ranking in Google’s search algorithm
  • Social sharing – single URL makes it easier to share across devices


Progressive mobile is the best solution to deliver the best possible experience for your mobile customers and optimize for conversions. The ability to engage with customers through app-like mobile web experiences sets progressive apart from responsive and m.dot.

What’s Right for your Company?

All three solutions have advantages and disadvantages. With that being said, m.dot sites are generally considered outdated technology.

Responsive sites are a great solution for those who want to share information or create a visually aesthetic website. But if  your ultimate goal is conversions, a progressive solution would be the best fit for your brand as faster sites lead to higher conversions and revenue. Research shows that every 100ms decrease in checkout page load speed leads to a 1.55% lift in session based conversions. Progressive Mobile is the only solution that enables the the app-like speed and experiences required to increase conversions both online and offline.

Download the business case for Mastering Your Customers’ Mobile Moments to see how progressive mobile can drive revenue, increase customer engagement, and protect your competitive edge.


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