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Responsive web design – why it’s important

Over the years, mobile usage online has been steadily growing. According to mobile marketing statistics, it has now overtaken desktop as the leading method of searching the web. This has given mobile marketing strategy an even bigger focus, with more and more businesses looking for responsive web design to meet the needs of their users.

What is mobile being used for?

Mobile is not far off taking over web browsing. From updating social media profiles and checking emails to booking restaurants and shopping online, usage is vastly due to the growing number of apps and responsive sites that enable users to go about their daily online business, whilst on the go. This abolishes the need for users to log in to their desktops at set times. There is no competition.

80% of internet users now own a smartphone and app usage counts for 89% of this mobile media time. Pretty high stats. Definitely not stats that can be ignored. Add to that the fact that 57% of those users won’t recommend a badly designed mobile site and it’s fair to say there is a clear need for businesses to deliver the best mobile experience to their users.

Appy user experience

Apps can offer a mobile experience that is fast and highly functional. However they take up space and do not replace a website. Research shows that users will still visit the mobile site if they are looking for more information than is offered via the app. This is where responsive web design cuts the mustard.

Responsive web design

In response to the changing ways that users use the internet, it’s important that your website is mobile friendly. But this doesn’t just mean having a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users. You need one that responds to both. And this is where responsive web design comes in.

A responsive web design is a build that ensures all of the content, images and structure of the site remains the same on any device. So if a user visits a website via desktop, the full view of the site displays. If that same user lands on the site via mobile or tablet, the site retracts to fit the smaller screen.

As a user, this means you do not have to visit different versions of the website depending on what device you are using. In a world where we are constantly developing the technology to simplify digital experience, this is a desirable advantage that users have already come to expect.

If you haven’t embraced a responsive web design as yet, it’s worth doing so to ensure you are moving with the times and are competitive online.

Responsive web design is not just about user experience

Responsive web design is not exactly new. Businesses have been going responsive for the past 5 years and so the first half of this blog is probably old news if you have a strong digital focus, or at least a strategy that aims to move with the times.

But what many don’t know is that responsive web design is not just about satisfying use experience. It’s also a key factor in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how sites are ranked.

Search engine powerhouse Google claimed it prefers responsive web design as the recommended mobile configuration as it is more efficient to crawl. Responsive sites that deliver different experiences to different devices only have one URL and HTML to index and organise. A website that has a mobile site and a different desktop site will have different URLs and HTML meaning Google has to crawl multiple versions of the website.

One URL and HTML increases the weight of the page. With multiple URLs, any online activity and engagement through social media relating to the site will be diluted and the weight of the page shared between the two. One URL and HTML increases the weight of the page and strengthens its online value and page authority. This is something that Google favours and is more likely to reward your site with a higher Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP).

User experience and SEO combined

Google doesn’t just look at the technical SEO elements to decide where to rank the site. It also looks at user experience to decide whether the site has value to the user.

Sites that are do not have responsive web design have a higher bounce rate than those with a responsive web design. Users who cannot view a website clearly when browsing on mobile will bounce off the site by hitting the back button, increasing your bounce rate.

High bounce rates have long been a cause of sites being devalued by Google, costing them rank positions. Bounce rates are affected by many factors, including page load speed, design, ad-heavy pages etc, but responsive web design is also a strong contender.

Make the leap to responsive web design now

So with mobile media activity now ahead of desktop activity online and further growth expected, businesses are throwing considerable resources at their mobile marketing strategies in 2017 and updating their sites.

Responsive web design should be a fundamental part of any new web design project and likewise a mandatory part of the offering from any web design agency (always worth checking though). Our advice: go responsive or go home.

Our website team deliver responsive websites as standard. Contact us for more information.