Let’s start with addressing the premise – Why care about responsive design or designing for mobile visitors to your site and what is responsive web design? First of all it’s hard to read a traditional website on a small mobile screen. All the pinching and scrolling frustrate the average user, not to mention how cumbersome filling out a form could be. Have you tried to fill in a form on your own site’s non-mobile optimized site? Just try it.So what is responsive web design? It’s creating one website that is controlled by CSS to render different looks on all sorts of browsers and devices, from a wide screen monitor to a 13″ laptop to an iPad, iPad Mini, Chrome Book and any smart phone. Check Wikipedia for an example and details.
How many people, do you ask, are browsing your site on a phone or other mobile device?
Also, data on several sites and studies (contact me and I’ll share screen captures of GA data) that show mobile traffic to websites has steadily increased over these past 3 years. I’ve seen an average increase of 100% equating to 35% or so of visitors now getting to sites from their mobile device. You don’t want to ignore such a large percentage of site visitors. Check your own Google Analytics data to see how your site fares. Admittedly we were pretty shocked about this steady and substantial increase.
If you’re now interested in designing for mobile visitors, it’s fair to note that there are several ways to achieve mobile ready design, some options may be better for different people and companies depending on circumstances. I’m advocating for responsive design because… well, for the following reasons:
1. iPad and other tablets changed the game, tablets do look at website full size. It used to be simple to install the Duda mobile app and be happy with your now smart phone ready display… not anymore though. With iPad, Mini iPad and all the unforeseen variants to come about, there are multiple screen sizes that your site will be viewed at and for which the interaction should be easy.
2. You can create customized experiences for each size of display.
3. Updates to all versions are easier. With responsive design when you make a code update it will render on all devices since its the same site just using one CSS. There are some plugins out there like Duda mobile that can make a mobile site with a m.yoursite.com domain for a WordPress site with a simple plugin and launch, however, it doesn’t address the other mobile devices – such as tablet screen sizes.
4. Google says to. Google is often selfish in their reasons, but most people like to do what Google wants since its by far the most widely used search engine. Also, Google is transparent about its reasons for using responsive design, and I quote:
“Why responsive design
We recommend using responsive web design because it has many good aspects:
- Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.
- No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience (see “Pitfalls when detecting user agents” section for details).
- It saves resources for both your site and Google’s crawlers. For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents needs to crawl your pages once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it appropriately fresh.” (https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/details)
5. Lastly, if you don’t , your competitor will.
Should we say more?