Have you re-designed your web site in the past couple of years? If not, you are likely in urgent need to update it to a responsive web design. If you’re a digital marketing person, you already know what that is. If you’re not, you may be wondering what I’m talking about and why I say it is critical to your bottom line.
Why Responsive Web Design Is So Important
A while ago I shared data on the shift of consumers to mobile devices to find information. I blogged about it in Mobile First Marketing. I also blogged about what I called Mobile Meltdown Day earlier this year when Google was updating their mobile search rankings. (Others called it Mobilegeddon.) Mobile Meltdown is just beginning. The reality of the initial impact was less than expected. About 17% of non mobile-friendly sites saw their mobile search ranking decline significantly from page 1 results. But that shouldn’t make you complacent about mobile-friendly sites that use responsive web design.. Mobile searches are already over 50% of total searches and continue to increase.
Failure to make responsive web design a priority will put your business at risk moving forward. You will be missing out on customers if they do not have good experience with your web site on mobile devices. In the short-term they may continue to find you in search results. But they will likely abandon you when your site is shrunken, un-optimized, unreadable, and difficult to use. Depending on your business and the typical age ranges of your customers you may already be at risk of losing new customers. The potential impact to your bottom line is huge.
What is Responsive Web Design?
I primarily use three different devices for accessing information on the Internet. I have standardized on Apple (don’t get me started on my poor experiences with past Microsoft products!). So I use an iPhone, iPad, and Macbook Pro at different times and locations. At work I am using my desktop browser(s) on a large screen. If I’m relaxing in the family room, I usually have my iPad open checking social media, reading news, using apps, and searching for information using the browser. If I am not at home I am using apps and searching for information on my iPhone while I am on the move. You may have fewer or more devices than me, but you get the idea. No matter what device size I am using I want to be able to read and interact with information from your business. If it’s unreadable, too slow, requiring me to go to a separate mobile site, or otherwise difficult to use, I just go to the next of your competitors. I personally don’t have time or patience to deal with your business if you don’t make it easy for me to learn about or find you. And I’m not alone!
Responsive web design is the approach to deal with this situation of multiple devices to have a consistently satisfying customer experience. It is a way of designing and developing web sites so that they are easy to read, interact with, and navigate across a wide range of devices. It is an approach for your web site to adapt and adjust to the customer, based on which device they are using at the time. There should be minimal re-sizing and side-to-side scrolling required. Mobile customer experiences should be optimized for speed and for minimal page switching.
How You or Your Web Designer Implement Responsive Web Design
You may use tools or frameworks such as Webflow, Bootstrap, Foundation, or Skeleton if you are Web developer into the technical details. For a WordPress-based web site, I like to start with a theme that already incorporates principles of good, responsive design. That way I can focus more on the customer experience and compelling marketing content.
Principles and best practices continue to emerge for Responsive Web Design, but these are some to consider now:
- Start by designing for the mobile customer
- Use images that are flexible and workable on retina displays from small to very large
- Compress images and videos to improve performance
- Get rid of non-essential content and site decorations
- Present more information that can be seen scrolling downward rather than requiring a lot of back and forth between pages
- Get rid of Flash on your site
- Minimize navigation menus
- Have important information at the top of your site
- Use bigger buttons
- Look at whether you should have an app in addition to a web site
Small and mid-sized businesses are particularly lagging in the move to responsive web design. If your web site is not yet using responsive web design it needs to be on your priority list of things to do. You’re probably already losing some customers who are trying to interact with you on mobile devices. But this will increase significantly over the next 1-2 years. The time to act is now before you see a negative impact to your bottom line.
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Let me know any comments or questions.