Modern Websites Require Responsive Design
Whether a web visitor is browsing on a smartphone, a tablet or a desktop PC, the expectations are the same. They want to find information, buy a product or learn something new. They want a positive user experience. One way to provide meaningful interactions is to use responsive web design.
RWD uses fluid, dynamic page layouts to present web pages based on how the user is viewing the site. The site shrinks when it’s viewed on a phone and enlarges when viewed on a large monitor. It seems like a sensible approach but it’s not widespread practice. Despite Google’s stated preference for mobile-enabled sites, 91% of small business websites are not optimized for mobile presentation (Basekit). Why not?
Here are key points why RWD has become increasingly important. Real data suggests it should be considered for any web project.
Mobile Is Here To Stay
Websites were originally created to be accessed from computer monitors. Over time, sites have gotten bigger and screens smaller. By 2018, an estimated 2.6 billion people will be using smartphones. That’s not farfetched. In the U.S. alone, 64% of adults owned a smartphone in 2015. The smartphone is a constant companion for 87% of millennials.
Mobile devices have influenced browsing habits. Where phones were simply used for communication pre-Internet, people now study, shop and share on their phones. Smartphone users check their devices 150 times a day. Most users spend two minutes out of three online on their tablet or phone.
Browsers on mobile devices have constraints that those on desktops do not have. They may be limited on bandwidth, time and device sophistication. These constraints have led to different expectations for mobile consumers.
- Site pages should load fast over any connection speed. Display speed was critical to 65% of consumers. An decrease in page loading speed from eight to two seconds can increase conversion rate by 74%
- Pages should fit the screen size on opening. Eight out of ten users would leave the site if the pages did not fit on their screen.
- Navigation must be clear and consistent.
- Text must be readable.
- Layouts should be visually pleasing even on a small screen. 38% of browsers will go elsewhere if they find the layout unappealing.
The reality is that mobile devices have become everyday essentials at work and at home. No business can ignore mobile trends. Those who do impose artificial limitations on themselves. A responsive website can help erase these limitations increasing their chances of converting mobile visitors into real customers.
Marketing Goes Digital
The web is the new radio, TV and mail route rolled into one. A 30-second ad on the Super Bowl can cost $5 million and reach 100 million American viewers on broadcast. A professionally-made video posted on social media can cost $25,000. Mentioned by an influential blogger and gone viral, a video can reach a million impressions or more in a week. Email click throughs had a measurable 5% – 15% increase in with responsive email design according to MailChimp research. Internet-based marketing is maturing and fast.
Not only has the web become a viable advertising medium, it’s become a source of trust and influence. The average person uses social media for two hours a day. 67% of consumers are influenced by online comments and reviews. Consumers acquired through some form of social media interaction are 37% more likely to be retained.
A responsive design allows businesses to craft marketing interactions based on the device. A user on a desktop may be served a lead-generating form. A mobile user on the same page will see a call to action button instead of a form. Filling a form on a phone would be awkward and time-consuming. A button would encounter less user resistance. Even chat messaging or notifications can be customized by device.
A company that seeks to maximize the ROI from digital marketing needs a strategy and a suitable platform. That platform can be a responsive website that can incorporate blogs, video, audio and social media interactions.
Start Your Search Engines
Optimizing display for mobile users and having a digital marketing strategy are smart decisions but they’re not enough. A business must be visible and accessible in search engines like Google or Bing. Enter Search Engine Optimization.
Google handles more than a billion search requests per month. They found that searches on mobile devices surpassed those done on a desktop. In April 2015, Google changed their search engine ranking algorithm to give fast-loading, responsive websites a higher page ranking. Since Google controls 80% of search traffic, the best websites takes SEO seriously.
A responsive website has a direct effect on SEO.
- Some mobile websites are actually multiple websites. Content is duplicated several times to handle each possible screen size or device. In contrast, a responsive website is designed as one site only. The site detects the viewing device and transforms on the fly.
- There is no content duplication which is something that Google frowns on. Visitors can share one link instead of many.
- Google recommends a page load speed of one second.A responsive website reduces page load times. This is done by not redirecting to alternate web pages when a mobile device is done. Images are automatically optimized for display.
- When a visitor dislikes a website they leave, the bounce rate increases. Google’s ranking algorithm does take a dim view of high bounce rates. A speedy responsive design combined with appealing content and layout decreases overall bounce rate.
- Authoritative backlinks can increase ranking by indicating good, valuable content. Having only one set of pages makes linking easier.
- The Google site crawler is made more effective by only having to pore over one set of site pages. This increases the likelihood of the crawler detecting fresh content more frequently. A regular schedule of site updates using fresh content has a significant impact on SEO.
Google continues to make changes to their algorithm. The goal being to direct search users to better results on pages that provide the best experience. In the long term, a focus on site usability benefits everyone. Users will enjoy their browsing activities. Businesses will have better opportunities for engagement and conversion.
Responsive web design balances the needs of the user with the needs of the site owner or business. It can improve and prolong visitor engagement. SEO efforts are enhanced not hindered by a responsive design. Google’s close attention to the user experience means that there is no better time to evaluate existing websites. Businesses who do not consider a responsive approach stand to lose out on a growing worldwide audience.