Responsive web design is one of the most important digital success factors businesses should be considering for implementation in 2014. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Adobe and eConsultancy, “Mobile optimization is the most exciting digital opportunity for 2013”.
Responsive websites are sites that “respond” to the user by automatically optimizing and resizing their content specifically for the particular device being used by the visitor. For example, a responsive website will look considerably different when being visited on a desktop computer than it will when being visited on a smart phone. Additionally, all of the same content will be available on both devices even though the overall website structure appears different.
The primary purpose of responsive web design is to improve the overall performance and usability of websites accessed via mobile devices due to their smaller screen sizes and slower internet connections. In fact, Google even states that responsive web design is “an industry best practice”.
Responsive web design was preceded by the practice of creating dedicated mobile sites for smaller devices (this is similar, but not the same as adaptive design). This takes considerably more effort as, in effect, separate sites need to be created for various devices.
In our experience, those that develop mobile sites often focus on the essentials alone, leaving out components of the main site that they deem superfluous. However sometimes you just want to access a piece of obscure information right from your phone. Shouldn’t that be something the user is able to accomplish? Responsive design uses CSS to tell the browser to move the elements of a web page around once the viewport (or the window that’s displaying the site) reaches a certain size. This means that you’re building one web page that is able to respond to different viewport sizes — that’s responsive web design.
According to data gathered from Sharaholic publishers, mobile traffic now accounts for more than 16% of all web traffic and is still continuing to rise in comparison to traditional desktop computer traffic. Digital analytics firm comScore predicts that the number of mobile devices users will surpass the number of desktop users in 2014.
At the same time, in a survey of 5,388 smartphone and tablet users conducted by Keynote Systems, Inc., 66% of those users expressed frustration with page load times on mobile devices. 48% of the same users also complained that websites were not optimized for mobile devices and if a page takes too long to load, 16% said they typically close the page and give up.
When nearly 1 out of every 5 visitors accesses your website via a mobile device, it is important to deliver as smooth and as intuitive of an experience as possible. Especially when you consider the fact that, according to a survey conducted by TeaLeaf (now owned by IBM), 85% of online adults think that an organization’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.
People aren’t just browsing via mobile and tablet devices, they’re making purchases with them as well. In a survey of 8,400 mobile and tablet users conducted by InMobi, 69% of tablet users reported having made purchases from their tablet devices within the last 30 days. Having a responsive website also serves as a signal to an organization’s customers that the company is keeping up with current technology trends, not afraid of change and is concerned about the overall satisfaction of their clientele.
I don’t have to tell you that a responsive website is quite different than having a mobile app designed to suit your organization’s purpose. Mobile apps are software applications designed specifically for a particular mobile operating system (Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, etc.) and require the end user to manually download software to their device. Apps are accessible, to a degree, offline and are generally built with a specific purpose in mind, however, in recent years developing an app has become something of a status symbol for some organizations. This has lead to the development of a saturated marketplace littered with seldom-used purposeless apps.
Using responsive design ensures that visitors to your site have a smooth and seamless experience regardless of the device they use. According to an infographic published by Google, 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially. When a new article, product or service is added to your website, the changes will be seen simultaneously across all devices without having to apply the changes on multiple platforms.
By developing a responsive web presence now, your organization is improving their overall accessibility and preparing itself for long term future success. By the way, if you’re ready to improve your web presence and pursue responsive web design but don’t know where to start, let us know – SEOcial can help!