We are obsessed with instant response. In a world full of devices that can access the Internet at the touch of a button or the flick of a finger, we’ve become more reliant on fast connections and responsive websites. If a website doesn’t load properly on our smartphone or tablet, you better believe we’re already on our way to a website that will.
A responsive website has a different connotation than you might think. When we think responsive, we usually think only about working right. There are many websites that work right on our smartphones and tablets, but for some reason, they don’t fit the smaller-sized screen. It can quickly get annoying when a user has to scroll back and forth and up and down to get the full content of the site.
A webpage is considered responsive when it automatically fits to the screen, regardless of what device you are using to view it. This means that you won’t have to worry about developing different sites to work for all the different devices, which is always a huge plus.
You may have heard that Google is a pretty big deal these days. Big surprise, right? But sometimes it’s import to remind yourself that, according to comScore, the search engine still has a 67.5 percent market share, as of March 2014. So as much as we may dislike being led around by the whims of a single company, the simple fact is that they know what they’re talking about when it comes to user experience. And if they say they prefer one type of website over another, we need to listen. And they have clearly stated that they prefer responsive websites over multiple versions of the website.
To get a little more technical, Google refers to this type of design as “a setup where the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device using media queries.” In other words, Google doesn’t want to have to index two sites when it could just focus on one.
Google prefers this setup over others because it makes it easier for their bots to crawl the sites and index and organize everything that is found online. This is because your site will have one URL and the same HTML code across the board. If you have both desktop and mobile versions of your website, there will be different URLs and HTML, which translates to more work for the Googlebots. (And the last thing you want to do when you want to impress someone is make them work harder.)
Google and SEO
A responsive design for your website is important for your SEO, as well. Google has recently placed a larger emphasis on user experience as a ranking factor for your site. On top of that, a single URL helps users share your site easier through social media channels. If you’re not using responsive design, a mobile user could share a link only to have a desktop user open it and find a stripped, mobile version, which creates an unpleasant user experience. The opposite also applies, of course, with a desktop user sharing something that looks great at home, but is unmanageable on a smaller screen.
Your SEO rankings can improve by creating a better experience for your users without having to consider what devices they are using.
What’s the point of having people browse your sites if none of them are converting and buying your products? It’s one thing to provide a good user experience to the customers, but it’s another thing completely to make sure your site has been built to guide them toward conversion. If a user is having problems navigating through your site structure, they’re less likely to buy anything.
One study has recently shown that 69% of tablet users have shopped online. This is indicative of the increased amount of mobile users putting their devices to work on everyday tasks. If it’s harder for them to actually buy something, do you think that they will still convert? It’s a lot less likely. Responsive design can help with higher conversion rates because it creates an easier browsing environment for your customers no matter where they are.
Easy to Manage
We’ve talked a lot about creating a great experience for your customers, but what about you? There is a certain level of thought that needs to be put into making things easier for you to run the site, keep it updated, and make sure you’re not falling behind the trends.
If you have two different URLs for a mobile and desktop version of your site, you will need to have two separate SEO campaigns. Having responsive-designed web pages will create less work for your developing team. It also means more cost effectiveness in the long run.
Doing What’s Best
In the end, every decision you make should have some positive effect on you, your team, and your customers. The facts are all laid out above. Mobile usage is increasing, people are happier with faster loading sites, and Google says responsive design is their recommended configuration.
A responsive design can create a real difference in your website’s performance, and with some work, you can make something good come out of it.