Following on from the recent success of our ‘What Is Responsive Web Design?’ infographic we felt that a large percentage of website owners still had unanswered questions:
With more people using their smartphones and tablets for tasks that only used to be possible on desktop, it has become increasingly important to create a website that works across multiple platforms and caters to the needs and requirements of customers.
In basic terms, having a responsive design means a website’s pages reformat themselves depending on which device they are being displayed on, ensuring that whether the content is viewed on a phone, tablet or desktop computer, the website will remain user-friendly and respond to the changing environment.
Rather than having separate desktop and mobile versions of a site, the solution is a single design that can handle both types of users; this is responsive website design.
Responsive Web Design is a method of designing and coding a website such that the website provides a prime viewing experience across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones through to desktop computers. The sites are designed with an aim to increase ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of scrolling, resizing and panning.
Responsive websites are developed using intelligent coding which helps the website determine what device it is being viewed on, it can then alter itself to fit to the screen size without any distortion. The fact that responsive websites are adaptable means they can offer the same fantastic user experience, no matter what device they are being viewed on.
Having explained what Responsive Web Design is, let us detail 22 reasons you need a responsive website.
Take a step outside; can you see somebody using a mobile phone? The chances are you can and whether you like it or not this tendency for people to be joined at the hip with their mobile device is here to stay.
In spite of this, there are still many businesses that have not yet picked up on this trend of ever increasing percentages of mobile and tablet Internet users.
Increasing use of the Internet and proliferation of web applications on tablet and mobile devices has been the driving force behind the development of responsive websites. Previous to this, users would either have to browse the standard desktop site or be re-directed to a device specific site (e.g. mobile), having a responsive design means one site can be implemented across multiple devices.
Over 195 Million tablet devices were sold in 2013, meaning that responsive design has never been so important for those looking to optimise their online content. Some of our clients here at Verve are already experiencing over 40% traffic from tablet and mobile devices, with such a strong commercial imperative to accommodate the smaller screen size in a unified design it is impossible to ignore.
Not so long ago Google announced that having a responsive web design can help improve the SEO of your site. Why does Google favour responsive design? The main reason it that they use a single URL, making it much easier for them to crawl and index the content within your domain.
They also offer a better user experience and as you should know by now, user experience is high on Google’s list of SEO criteria. If the biggest search engine in the world says responsive web design is important, who are we to argue?
Google understand that unhappy visitors will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank well within mobile searches.
According to the Google PageSpeed Developers, standards recommend that the content above the fold on a mobile device should load in under 1 second with the whole page loading in under 2 seconds.
This is generally not possible when trying to load a desktop version of a website on a mobile device. When a customer has to wait a longer than this for a page to load, there is a high probability that they will then leave your site and look elsewhere.
One of the most appealing aspects of responsive web design is that a responsive website can provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes. This is an important characteristic, since it is impossible to anticipate all the devices and screen sizes searchers will use to access your site.
Let’s take the following scenario as an example. A user searches for a product on his or her mobile phone during a break at work. They find a site that has the product they’re looking for; they then decide to continue researching this product on the same site when they get home later that evening. Unfortunately, when they get home, they will use their desktop instead of their smartphone.
If the site in this example is responsive, this person will have a positive user-experience when transitioning from mobile to desktop because they will view the same site on their desktop as they did on their smartphone. On the other hand, if the site is a dedicated mobile site, this user will become annoyed and frustrated with the fact that they have to locate the desktop version of the site and search for the product again.
Google suggest that mobile optimised, responsive sites are featuring prominently in localised search results. This is obviously of huge significance to high street retailers and local businesses.
By creating a single website that adjusts to multiple devices, responsive web design is a must to help increase your website search engine results. Instead of building links or optimising content for multiple websites, you will only need to market a single responsive website. Furthermore, the URL structure will remain the same on all devices, improving your ranking and search engine visibility of the site.
From an SEO perspective, one of the main challenges posed by having a separate mobile site is that you will need to build the authority of this site from scratch, and most separate mobile sites do not rank well in search engines, as they are canonicalised to their desktop equivalents.
Furthermore, redesigning your website as responsive will allow you to preserve any backlinks and let you focus your SEO on one single site. This means all of your links will be directed to one domain (as opposed to one mobile website and one desktop site), giving your responsive website a boost in both the desktop and mobile SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
A single responsive site means that you no longer have to track user journeys, conversion paths, funnels and redirections between multiple versions of your sites. Analytics tools like Google Analytics and Clicky are now optimised to handle multiple devices and responsive reporting.
Even if a website is sitting pretty in search results, if it doesn’t work effectively for mobile and tablet users, bounce rate will be a considerable problem. Mobile versions of websites can suffer from a high bounce rate if the content they provide is too stripped down, or too different from the content offered on the desktop version. Google may then interpret this high bounce rate as a sign that a website isn’t offering relevant content to users, this is then likely to lead to a drop in rankings.
A responsively designed site combats this problem by presenting all of the same content found on the desktop site (but in a much more functional way). Responsive web design means that there is no need to negotiate on the content you choose to show; this then helps to ensure that visitors always receive the information they are looking for (keeping them on page and lowering bounce rate)!
Content is essential in SEO, good quality content which is regularly published and updated improves your search engine ranking results, therefore an additional advantage of responsive design is that fewer resources can be wasted in low-level duplication of content across sites.
A huge benefit of adopting a responsive design is that it takes less time than creating an additional stand-alone mobile site, which is how things have been done in the past. Having to test multiple versions of a site also increases development, support and maintenance overheads.
Business owners also find it far simpler and less time consuming to manage and maintain a single site, with substantially less content to manage. In addition to this a single admin interface can easily be optimised, using layout and workflow tools to manage the correct content.
Sites designed exclusively for mobile devices don’t offer the advanced navigational techniques found in traditional desktop websites, they also require the user to maintain two separate web addresses for your site.
The development and maintenance of one website costs less than two and can result in considerable savings.
All of your tracking and analytics will continue to function and be condensed into a single report, allowing for easier monitoring and analysis.
Besides all of the search benefits of having a responsive website, it also has the ability to increase those sought-after conversion rates from all of the mobile users in the world. Why? Well, if a website does not work effectively on mobile or tablet device, users will not be able to convert.
When a user has to do more work than needed to complete a conversion, do you think that they will still convert? Possibly but it is certainly less likely.
If a user visits your website and encounters a problem on their preferred device, you are likely to lose that potential business. However, if the potential customer can access your website with ease from any device, they are unlikely to switch to a competitor. Enhancing a users journey and experience will increase conversion rates and ultimately improve sales.
This article has already touched on this, but responsive design gives users a better experience. For example, 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.
Don’t believe me, here are some stats to back up why this is so important.
According to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, whenever a user arrives on your mobile website and is unfulfilled, or doesn’t see the content that they are searching for immediately, there’s a 61% chance they will leave and head to a different website.
In contrast to this, when a user has had a positive experience with your mobile website, that individual will be 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service. Furthermore, 48% of users stated to Google that when a site doesn’t function on their mobile device it makes them feel that the company does not care for their business.
Another problem with having separate desktop and mobile sites is that you are creating twice the amount of work for yourself. Not only will maintenance of the site take longer, but you will also have to develop two separate strategies for things like marketing and SEO and incur double the costs. It makes far more sense to invest in a responsive website design that will be quick to update and easier to manage.
When there is just one website and URL, it’s far easier for users to share, engage and interact with the content on that site as compared to a site that has different pages for mobile and desktop users.
Google favours this too, but why? Imagine a user shared a mobile site on a social media outlet and one of their connections then viewed that mobile site on their desktop machine. That viewer would then be viewing a less than optimal site because it was intended for mobile. Again, this provides a below-par user-experience.
If your site is responsive you can build social shares for just one URL and when the site does get shared, wherever the link is viewed – whether on a mobile, tablet or on desktop – all of the content will be clear and easy to navigate.
Social shares impact SEO, having multiple versions of the same page dilutes the impact of any shares.
An improved user experience also makes it easier to be reached and complain. If people are able to contact you and find a way to complain, you have a much lower probability of them going online through social media and complaining on your public pages.
Having a responsive design allows site owners to deliver quality content to audiences across varying devices, the offline browsing capabilities of HTML5 means that sites can be easily accessed on the go.
As the number of HTML5 enabled tablets and smart phones increase this will become increasingly important. It is estimated that Email newsletters and content contained in hybrid HTML5 web applications will increasingly be accessed on the move and in the absence of an Internet connection.
In the business world it is imperative that you stay ahead of the competition. If more and more of your users/customers are using their mobile devices to search and make purchases online, you should be catering for your audience by having a mobile-friendly site.
Stats show that 85% of adults believe that a mobile site must be as good, if not better than a desktop site.
A relatively small percentage of websites are currently optimised to take full advantage of the mobile web through responsive web design. Your business has the opportunity to gain a significant edge over the competition by becoming an early adopter of this technology.
Technology is constantly changing and progressing; this makes it difficult to predict what will be the next development. One of the many positive things about responsive website design is that they adapt to different screen sizes. This means that even if your website is being viewed from smart glasses and watches in the future, it will still be optimised and compatible! If you are looking for a way to future proof your website and potentially save money in the long run, a responsive website design is a worthwhile investment.
Responsive design allows you to stay ahead of the trend. As the demand for media rich mobile Internet and apps continues to increase, several important implications must be addressed; development and maintenance costs, visibility in search engines, better conversion rates and the most important of all is to offer your visitors an optimal user experience.
Want to see how your website appears on differing devices? Check out this great, free tool: http://ami.responsivedesign.is/
As a website owner, it should be your aim to keep both your customers and Google happy. After reviewing all of the benefits, we would recommend every business to consider responsive web design. Not only will it offer a great user experience and SEO benefits, but it will also allow you to benefit from lower costs and give you the peace of mind that your website is future proofed.
If you have any questions regarding responsive web design please feel free to contact our team of experts who would be more than happy to help.
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