Nowadays, more people are using their phone or tablet for browsing than ever before. In fact, statistics show that over 56% of people in the USA are using their mobile devices on a regular basis to browse the web.
For businesses looking to take advantage of this increasingly commonplace happening, responsive website design is a must. It’s not a fad, or attractive gimmick – but something businesses who want a mobile web presence, need to invest in, now.
Responsive design is quite a simple concept. The idea is that sites respond to the device they are being viewed on and position themselves on the display in order of shape, size and importance. In doing so, any website can fit comfortable on any display. Something that traditional websites, unresponsive mobile websites and apps don’t facilitate comfortably.
In addition, responsive design is also acclaimed as a big plus for SEO in mobile searches – something that’s increasingly pivotal owing to current trends.
A responsive site provides the user with a clear and very usable layout of the site. It means that the amount of pinching and zooming is minimised and creates an overall more functional experience.
Traditional sites are hard to read on small screens, take a lot of zooming in and out and are in a way an annoyance. This increase bounce rates by up to 61% – something Google notes and applies to mobile SERPs. It then in part allocates rankings in accordance with the bounce rate.
Traditional mobile sites can be quite awkward too and as they differ per device and also from the desktop website design, things are positioned differently and this can also lead to a lower quality user experience. Responsive sites on the other hand, provide clear content, where it’s required and offer a better user experience, lower bounce rate and also aid SEO.
A mobile site is a separate site to the original desktop site and it’s known on occasion to cause duplicate content and two sites competing for the same place unless it is no-follow. This can mean that if things go awry users could end up on the wrong version of your site depending on the device in use – then you’ll need to consult IT services.
It should also be noted it is possible to set mobile sites up with a script that detects what device is being used so the main desktop site is the site that ranks and features in the SERPS. If a mobile device accesses it, the script redirects to the mobile version of the site. However, for a first time site this can be a lot more trouble than a responsive site.
In a case where the owner already uses a highly complex website on asp or .net platforms moving to responsive is quite tricky, so they might want a simplified mobile version for mobile browsers. However, generally this is not the case.
This separation also can cause back link issues if the site is follow or if there are issues with canonical tags.
So, in certain cases if you have two separate sites your mobile site won’t benefit fully from your existing desktop site’s backlinks. However, if your site is a responsive site, it’s just one site and this means it has all the existing back links, allowing you to benefit whether on mobile or desktop.
It also means that you only have to care for one site – saving a lot of time and effort on site maintenance.
Responsive sites offer significant opportunities for businesses and are currently still being underutilised considering their SEO benefits among other things.
However, if you’re looking to meet the future industry standard and also get a jump at your competitors it’s very benefical.
Cormac Reynolds writes for Soho IT a company that offers IT services in London. He is a lover of great website design and has written about the area for a number of years.