As we discussed in our last post, “Why Having a Responsive Website Is Important,” if you do not have responsive website design, you are likely losing a significant amount of business. If a potential buyer cannot easily read and navigate your website on a small screen, they will very likely leave your website before making a purchase or getting the information they need.
If a reader has to scroll sideways back and forth to read the lines of text on their smartphone or tablet screen, you’ve probably lost that potential customer or client! The same is true if your text is so small, they either need a magnifying glass or keep zooming in and out just to read your content!
It is not enough to use responsive website design to create your website. It is very important that you test your mobile website to make sure it looks good and it is easily navigated on all mobile devices. In fact, you should continue to test your mobile website on mobile devices on an ongoing basis, the operating systems, and the browsers used continually change.
Unless you are designing your own website, you will need to depend on the skills your web designer to create a website that is responsive and works well on all mobile devices. This means when you shop for a web designer, you need to make sure you select a web designer who is fully knowledgeable on how to make your website mobile-friendly and is motivated to fully test their work to ensure it truly is.
When shopping for a website designer, you need to remember the following. Most web developers tend to have desk top computers with large high resolution monitors. Even their laptops tend to be on the larger end of the spectrum. This is not to say they don’t also have smart phones, tablets, and other small internet connected devices, but when they do their design work, they are often working with large monitor sizes!
1. Specifically ask about how they will test how your website will appear and function on mobile devices. While there is software and internet tools they can use to test website, you want to see if they do any testing on actual devices, and if so, which devices and how many. Also, do they test different browsers and different operating systems?
2. Ask for several samples of their work. Take a look at these websites on your own mobile devices! How do they look? Is it easy to navigate them?
It is important that you get involved in the testing your mobile website too so you can address any issues you discover with your mobile website designer. A good place to start when testing your mobile website is using this Google tool:
Keep in mind this is a very basic test. It does not determine if your website design is OPTIMALLY designed to be viewed on mobile devices. However, it does tell you whether or not Google views your website as “mobile-friendly.” If yes, you get an automatic boost in your Google search engine rankings for mobile searches!
Remember, it is very important that you test each individual page in your website, not just your homepage. You may find that your homepage is deemed “mobile-friendly” by Google while some of your internal webpages are not. This is especially true if you have updated an old website so be sure to check old pages as well as new pages and updated pages.
If your content is dynamic, i.e. generated on the fly by pulling information from a database, be sure to test each possible type of dynamic page created on your website. Be sure to test again if you make any changes to the backend of your website.
In preparation to testing your own website, you may want to plug in the URL of dozens of other websites to get an idea of what is considered “mobile-friendly” and what is not “mobile-friendly” in the eyes of Google.
When you redesign a website to be mobile friendly, you can’t possibly test every version of every device, every operating system version, and every browser version — and neither can your responsive website developer, no matter how good they are! You’ll need help! One of the best sources of help is your own customers or clients!
Send out an email to all your customers and tell them the positive news that you’ve updated your website to look and function better on mobile devices. Announce it in your newsletter if you have one. Place a message about it on your website. In all cases, ask your customers or clients to let you know if they see a problem, and if so, to let you know the type of device they’re using when they discover the problem, the software they’re running, and the browser they’re using.
Millennials have grown up with mobile devices and they tend to be the early adopters of new gadgets, new browsers, etc. Use your network of friends and family to develop an army of millennials to test your website on every gadget they use. Remember, this works best with a little bribe!
The testing phase is just as important as the design phase for a responsive mobile website. Test, test, test!! You can never test too much!
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.