Why It’s A Critical Component of your Website
Searching the internet began as a stationary experience requiring users to sit at a desk, dial up the internet and access information from a desktop computer in their home or office. The introduction of laptops allowed for more mobility but it wasn’t until the emergence of cell phones and tablets that technology became an interactive experience on the move.
When you analyze your business analytics you likely see the majority of your website traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices. It’s probably not uncommon to see that customers visited your site after engaging with your brand on social media or querying specific keywords relevant to their needs. The online experience is now integrated with everyday life and because of that reality, companies need to create a user experience that is conducive to the speed of life in 2020. Presenting an outdated website that requires mobile users to zoom-in to read or pan-and-scan, is simply no longer an option.
Today’s users expect more, and if you’re not providing a responsive user experience you risk a negative first impression, loss of credibility and quite possibly the loss of sales to your competitors.
So what does responsive design mean in regards to a website? Responsive web design allows the layout of your website to change according to the screen size of the device being used to access it. A wide screen display might display a website design with multiple columns of content, whereas the mobile view would likely feature that same content presented in a single column with text and links that are appropriately sized to be viewed on that smaller display.
Why is responsive web design such a critical component of a website? Here are several key reasons:
Responsive Web Design Supports Multi-device Users
Websites are being viewed on variety of devices and screen sizes, and the same visitors often access websites using different devices over time. To best support their experience, websites must work well regardless of the device used to view it. The same content that they have access to on one device must present well when they return on other devices to ensure consistency in information.
If a customer visits a website looking for specific information and later return on a different device but cannot find that same information (perhaps because you decided to not include it on a “mobile-only” version of the website), you run the risk of that person simply leaving your website and taking their business elsewhere. Consistency of information across all devices, with a layout and experience suited to each individual screen size, helps reduce the risk that a potential customer will abandon your website halfway through their overall experience.
One Website, Not Many
It can be difficult to keep a website updated and relevant, but maintaining multiple websites with up-to-date and consistent messaging is even more challenging. This is why a responsive website prevails over separate websites for desktop displays and mobile devices.
A “mobile-only” approach mean your website detects whether visitors are access the website via a mobile device and, if so, directs them to a separate, mobile-optimized version. This can be problematic for a number of reasons: 1) you now have two websites to keep updated, which means you have just doubled your workload, and 2) most “mobile-only” websites feature a smaller amount of content and features found on the “desktop” website version. As mentioned previously, content and feature differences between displays might frustrate multi-device users expecting access to the same information across various devices.
Responsive Web Design Improves Search Engine Rankings
Google has recommended using responsive web design to support different devices and screen sizes for quite some time, but the search engine has taken this recommendation a step further recently. They began adding a “Mobile Friendly” label to websites that used this approach when those sites appeared in a search results page on a mobile device.
While this designation was a nice to have, Google said at the time that they envisioned using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in the future. As of April 21st, 2015, that came to actualization and Google began rewarding sites that were built responsively for multi-device support. By rewarding sites that are mobile-friendly, Google is effectively penalizing those that are not, making responsive web design an important factor in SEO (search engine optimization) strategy plans.
Every website, regardless of the goals or purpose that it serves will benefit from a display that seamlessly transitions across multiple screen sizes and on various devices. So if you are hanging on to an outdated, desktop-only website, you are doing yourself and your audience a disservice. Mobile device use is growing at a rapid rate, while desktop use is in steady decline. Adopting responsive web design now will give you the online presence you need to remain relevant for years to come. If you are looking for a team to help create a website that stands (and evolves) with the test of time, contact us – we’d love to help!