Why Responsive Design is crucial!

4 reasons your website MUST be mobile friendly

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design has been around for a number of years but is now as essential feature of your website.  Having a responsive website means that your website will respond to the screen it is being viewed on – this covers people viewing your site on their 60inch+ Smart TVs, computer monitor, tablet, ipad, phone and any other internet enabled device.

Using a responsive web design means that the content will resize according the screen so for example, on a full size HD screen your site might have a section that features 4 columns across the page; the same section viewed on a tablet in landscape mode might change this to 2 columns (with the content from the other 2 columns being moved below the first 2);  in portrait mode on the same tablet (or on your smartphone) the responsive design may change again so that all content is now in 1 longer column.

Obviously in order to do this there’s plenty going on in the background including resizing images, text, and altering layouts to suit the different screen sizes. Taking this a little further it’s actually possible to hide entire sections for certain screen sizes and optionally replace them with different content.  This maybe done for example if you have a very lengthy block of text which might be fine on bigger screens but you want a much shorter ‘summary’ of that text on mobiles to give a better user experience.

Why is it so important to use Responsive Design

More Mobile traffic

Mobile traffic has exploded in recent years with some staggering statistics being produced.  Mobile traffic now accounts for more than 50% of the total internet traffic worldwide and this figure is only set to rise.  Furthermore when you look at local mobile search traffic this figure is much higher with most sources quoting 65 – 80% as a minimum.  For any business in the consumer sectors this is obviously a very big deal and represent the staggering number of people who go to a new town / area take out their phone and search for that they need – restaurants, shops, bike hire, accommodation etc.  There are similar statistics around mobile ecommerce and this is a huge growth market that can be tapped into using mobile friendly sites.

Better User Experience

Nowadays people want a good and easy experience when looking at your website.  They do not want to have to be continually scrolling side to side to read your content or struggling to fill in forms, find information an use menus.  They also don’t want the site to run really really slowly on their phone whilst they are waiting for it to download images that are so big they’d look great on a billboard!  As covered in the opening paragraph there are numerous ways in which responsive designs can solve these issues by adjusting content to match the screen size, ensuring correct images sizes are delivered etc.  Following on from the local statistic given above, even if you have a good ranking in search engines and appear on local maps if the user then visits your site to find it’s not responsive they are very likely to go back to their search results and look at the next one instead.

Google / Search Engines

Google has recommended using responsive design for a number of years and is continuing to do so.  This year is also expected to see the full-scale introduction of Google switching over the it’s Mobile First Index which is basically going to give preferential treatment for sites that use responsive design and are mobile friendly. Combined with the reasons given above this is likely to mean that sites that are mobile friendly are likely to receive at least twice as much traffic as ones that aren’t.  (See also link in ‘Test Your Site’ for how you can test if Google views your site as mobile friendly).

Lower Cost

As we’ve seen above having a mobile friendly site is essential and our personal preference is most certainly using responsive design.  However, some companies also have a completely separate site for mobiles.  Whilst this used to be popular for big companies (and at one point was very popular as a mobile solution offered by web developers) it does have some major drawbacks including have to duplicate work so that it’s done on both sites and also causes complications with SEO as to how to optimise without duplication or creating competition. With the advances in responsive design it makes much sense to have 1 site with 1 lot of content and images that can adapt to all screen sizes.

Test Your Site

As outlined above there are many reasons why responsive design is more important than ever now and ALL new websites should be responsive.  If you want to check whether your current site is responsive and mobile friendly Google provide a free tool for doing just that – https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly – if you find that it isn’t then it’s certainly worth the investment in getting a new mobile friendly website.  It is possible to make an existing site responsive but it’s often a more comprehensive solution to have a new site built with that purpose in mind.

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