Why is responsive design so important?
As more and more people are continuing to use mobile devices like smart phones and tablets for tasks they were initially only available on desktop computers, it's vital for any business or organisation that they accommodate this growing trend to keep themselves visible online. Furthermore, Google announced that they will be officially considering the mobile friendliness of a website as an integral part of their ranking algorithm for mobile search results.
It is increasingly important that your website is mobile friendly, particularly as people are using it for everything from browsing surfing, using social media outlets, checking emails, online banking and doing some online shopping. Usually you have a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users.
However, it is possible to have a website that is equally usable on both desktop and mobile platforms. This is called responsive web design.
What is responsive design?
Responsive design simply means a website that has been constructed so that all of the content, images and structure of the site automatically adapt for use on any device. When a viewer accesses a website on a desktop computer they get the full view of the website. But when they view the website on a smart phone of tablet the website will adjust itself to fit on the smaller screen. It means that you don't have to have two or three different websites to suit various devices.
But this isn't the only important reason why you should make your website responsive.
Mobile usage is increasing
As you will have noticed more and more people are using mobile devices, in fact some people are permanently attached to them! While some businesses haven't picked up on this trend it's important to consider some facts:
Favoured by Google?
As Google, the most popular search engine in the world, starts to consider responsive design an important factor in it's search engine rankings it's vital that businesses consider the implications for their online presence.
So why does Google prefer responsive design? Firstly, it's more efficient for Google to bot crawl the site and then index and organize all the content that is online. The reason for this is that with responsive design, all sites have just one URL and the same HTML across all devices. When a business has both a mobile site and desktop site, there area different URLs and different HTML for each. This forces Google to crawl and index several versions of the same site.
It is also easier for users to share, engage and interact with the content on a website that has just one URL as opposed to a site that has different URLs and pages for mobile and desktop users. Google likes this. Why? Because if someone shared a mobile site on a social media outlet and one of their viewers looked at that mobile site on their desktop, that viewer would then be viewing a less than optimal site because it was intended for mobile. Generally that makes the viewer unhappy.
Google realizes that unhappy people will go elsewhere, creating increased bounce rates and then the site will not rank on mobile searches. This in turn also harms your SEO.
Basically it's just bad for business for both Google and all of the websites that aren't taking advantage of the benefits of responsive design.
Increased conversion rates
Responsive design has the ability to increase conversion rates from all mobile users. If a website does not work on a mobile or tablet device, users will not be unable to convert. Don't forget many more people are increasingly doing online shopping from a mobile device.
So, when a user has to do more than needed to complete a conversion, they are unlikely to still convert. However, there's a little more to it than that. For example, since a responsive website design can adjust to any screen, developers have control on how all of those conversion elements will display on mobile and tablet.
Also you can segment users by mobile and gain a better view of how those users are interacting on your site. This means you analyze and adapt sales and marketing strategies to make them more effective.
Social media goes mobile
In a world where social media and blogging are in constant use you'll be missing out on a lot of leads if you've not implemented some sort of social media strategy in your marketing. With the constant use of mobile devices for social media what's the point of sharing content on social media if it's not compatible with mobile devices? Again, if a website isn't functioning on a mobile device, users get frustrated and leave.
Better user experience
Responsive design gives users a better experience, particularly if users don't have to fool around with zooming and shrinking the text or images on screen. Instead, all of the content automatically adjusts to the screen of the device. This makes it easier and more convenient for users to read and navigate on your site.
Viewers or users arrive on your mobile website and are frustrated, or don't see the content that they are searching for immediately, there's a high chance they will leave and head to another website. However, when a user has a positive experience with your mobile website finding what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy a product or use a service.
Easier to manage SEO campaigns
If you have separate desktop and mobile sites, you will have to run separate SEO campaigns for each. It would be easier to manage only one SEO campaign on one website. This in turn will keep your customers happy and your team including developers and content marketing managers. More importantly because you only have one site, responsive design is more cost effective as well.
Keep ahead of the competition
Keeping ahead of the competition in any business is important. So, if more and more users are using their mobile devices to search and make purchases online, or find and use services, you have to ensure that you look after all audiences by having a mobile-friendly site.
Many of your competitors won't be making use of responsive design, which means they will be missing out on potential leads and sales. So this is where you can gain an advantage on them and stay ahead.
Posted 30th March 2015 by Richard Excell
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