Let’s start this discussion by answering a basic question:
A responsive website is designed to automatically detect the size and resolution of the reader’s screen and automatically generate the best layout for that screen size and resolution. This means that your website will look good and be easily navigated on all devices, large and small, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. A website designer creates a responsive website by using flexible layouts that automatically adjust to screen size and or cascading style sheets that trigger a different layout depending on screen size.
It is important to note that the information presented is exactly the same on all screen sizes, assuming that’s what you want. It’s just laid out differently to make it easier on the viewer to view and navigate. So, for example, if a person using a smartphone tries to browse a traditional website without responsive design, it usually involves a lot of horizontal scrolling and or zooming in and out. This makes it very awkward to use the site and many people will simply choose to go to another website rather than have to deal with this. Likewise, if a person using a larger laptop or desktop computer lands on a website specifically designed for a small device, it can look awkward and unprofessional.
2014 was a major turning point in the internet world! This is the year that mobile internet usage overtook desktop usage. In fact, the sell of mobile devices used to access the internet was much stronger than the sell of desktop computers. Moreover, according to Google, fifty to sixty percent of all Google searches in the United States and Europe in 2014 were conducted using a mobile device with a smaller screen size. Furthermore, in some nations, such as those in the rapidly expanding economies of Africa and Asia, almost all of the searches are conducted on a mobile device!
If you have a business website that does not have responsive design, you are almost certainly already losing business and you will lose even more in the near future. Let’s look at some very real numbers. In 2014, on Thanksgiving Day, people bought $12.8 million dollars of merchandise and services through their smart phones! On Black Friday of that same year, people bought $18.1 million dollars of merchandise and services on their smart phones! According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Report, forty-five percent of all “retail” shopping conducted on the internet was done through a mobile device! Please pause for a moment and really think about those numbers!
These statistics continue to skyrocket with no end in sight. If a potential buyer lands on your website using a smartphone or a tablet with a small screen size, and you do not have responsive design, it is highly likely that buyer will simply get frustrated and leave your website without buying anything. It’s also entirely possible one or more of your competitors already have responsive design and these frustrated potential buyers may move to your competitor’s site where you’ll never see them again.
With plenty of advanced warning in the form of blog posts and press releases, Google updated their algorithm on April 21, 2014 to give websites with responsive design a boost in the Google rankings for mobile searches. Keep in mind that “mobile search” includes most laptops! In other words, if you want a nice boost in your search engine rankings, fully sanctioned and even encouraged by Google, responsive website design is one of the best ways to invest your marketing dollars! By the way, this update was dubbed, “Mobilegeddon” in case you want to learn more about it.
Responsive website design also improves your search engine rankings in other ways. For example, responsive design will greatly decrease your “bounce rate,” i.e. the rate at which users almost immediately leave your website when first landing there. This is because mobile users, and or those with a smaller screen size, will find the user experience much nicer with responsive design, as the formatting and navigation will be significantly improved. Responsive design also helps web pages load faster on average across all screen sizes. Bounce rate and load time are both significant factors in Google’s ranking algorithm.
If a shopper using a desktop computer likes a website and decides to share it with a friend, the friend may be using a device with a small screen. Therefore, if the original shopper is viewing a beautiful website designed for larger screens without responsive design, it may actually look terrible and be extremely difficult to navigate for the friend who is using a small screen to view it. Of course, the reverse may also be true. In either case, you may lose a potential customer delivered to your business website via a personal recommendation if you do not have responsive website design!
Responsive website design is essential for any business that depends on their website for direct sales and or lead generation. Furthermore, the need for responsive website design will continue to increase well into the future.