Responsive web and mobile design: The Google Update
In April, Google announced changes to how it would rank mobile web pages and would punish sites that were not mobile friendly. Suddenly those with separate mobile sites were left rushing about to make alterations or change to a responsive design before the Google crawlers came and re-read their site. But just what is a responsive mobile design and why should we all be adapting this change?
What is responsive web design?
A responsive design makes your website viewable on any platform. This means through any device, whether it is a desktop computer, a tablet or a mobile phone. Customers were once taken to separate mobile websites which had limited accessibility, responsive design means the same features will be on the site regardless of how you are viewing it. Users won’t be able to tell if your site is responsive on a laptop or desktop, but when viewing on a mobile device they shouldn't need to zoom too much, or have trouble viewing videos or images.
Why should I change to responsive design?
Aside from the Google update, mobile viewing of the internet is increasing year on year. As more and more people begin to view content on-the-go your site needs to be ready for the increase in audience - and the potential for more updates to come out of Google. Tablet computers have also opened up the internet to a new older generation of audience, thanks to their ease of use. These are just one example of customers who view via a different ecommerce platform and could benefit from your site being responsive.
If your site is not responsive, its unlikely users will convert. With mobile devices becoming an increasing method of online shopping, it’s important you are not missing out on gaining this custom. It also means that you can chart how users interact on your site, as you have one platform on which to manage them.
Having a responsive mobile design means you have less costs to outlay in web design and development, as you are removing the need for a separate mobile site. However, it will also save you many man hours in updating and optimising both sites. Any marketing strategies you put into place via your website or social media (with links back to your site) will also have more value for money as you are increasing the target audience.
Reassess your thinking
Having one responsive website makes you rethink your entire layout and on-page design. There simply isn’t the room on a mobile-phone screen for excess and it forces you to prioritize your content. This could affect your SEO as a bonus as it forces you to decide what the most valuable content is – be it text, images, videos, the list is endless – on that particular page, and how you can make the most of it on a smaller screen. Your SEO will of course also be increased simply by changing to a mobile-friendly design.
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