December 1, 2015

Why Responsive Web Design is the Best Fit

Lee Steely

You already know a well designed website matters for your business, but do you know how important responsive design is for extending your website’s reach? It’s easy to think of your website solely in terms of how it displays on a desktop computer, but proliferation of mobile devices has led to a definite shift in overall user behavior. In early 2014, Internet usage on mobile devices officially surpassed PC usage, and the trend shows no sign of reversing. In other words, many of your target users may never see the desktop version of your website.

It’s time to think Mobile First.

Desktop and Mobile, or Responsive Design?

In the past, developers have addressed the need to reach mobile users with mobile design, creating a mobile template with its own sub-domain separate from the main website (many companies choose to designate these by the prefix “m,” as in “m.domain.com”). This is better than leaving mobile users to fend for themselves on a desktop-optimized website, but relying on a separate mobile template design can create some maintenance headaches down the line. This means two separate websites to maintain and adapt over time, which also dilutes your website analytics, reporting, and SEO, as links shared from mobile browsers will not count as search link equity for your main site.

Separate mobile-only versions of websites are less efficient and cost-effective in the long run, and should be weighed carefully against alternatives.

Responsive Design, Responsive Customers

When your website is designed responsively, a single domain website is coded to scale to any screen size no matter what device is being used, and site development is approached from a “mobile first” perspective. With more people accessing the Internet from mobile devices, and 61% of people reporting a higher opinion of brands that provide a smooth mobile experience, this is an important shift to make for a positive user experience. Responsive design means faster loading time, since there’s no need to wait for the server to redirect mobile users to a mobile-specific site. And because the website scales to the user’s device, there’s no need for visitors to zoom-in or scroll unnecessarily just to experience the content. Mobile users respond to responsive.

The Responsive Future

The importance of building your website to be responsive will only increase as the mobile device market expands and adapts to user behaviour. In 2012 Google officially endorsed responsive design over mobile templates, because single site design works best for Google’s external link algorithm and reduces the chance of SEO errors. In fact, as of April 2015, Google’s algorithm now incorporates “mobile friendliness” into its rankings, specifically scanning websites for mobile responsive elements. Building your website with responsive design keeps your performance current, enhances user experience, optimizes search rankings, and keeps site maintenance at a minimum through future updates. It’s better to be responsive.