April 18, 2014 | Sarah Danks
Gone are the days of having a “desktop website” and a separate “mobile site.” Enter Responsive Web Design (RWD). What is it, anyway? In a nutshell: making one website accessible via any device. I heard a couple of web people call it a “trend” — I assure you, it’s anything but that. Mashable called 2013 the “Year of Responsive Web Design.” Well, it’s now 2014 and I know web companies who STILL aren’t doing this. Or, at least…they’re not doing it correctly.
It’s not enough to slap a design onto a device and hope it’ll look good — or, more importantly, get users to take action.
I read an article on Search Engline Land not too long ago where they found most local searches are done on PCs because,
“Nearly all PC owners conduct local searches. By comparison, 79% of mobile phone owners and 81% of tablet owners used those devices for local searches. Satisfaction with the overall experience declined across device categories since last year, but was highest for the PC, followed by tablet and mobile. Other than for “on the go” information, PCs were preferred devices for local search because of greater usability and access to information.”
I wonder why, in a highly mobile-focused world, user satisfaction DECLINED with mobile devices while searching/using sites online? Probably because many business still aren’t utilizing RWD. The same study noted,
“The (online) audience is becoming more multi-platform with 39% of respondents overall using multiple devices for local search.”
It’s important to have a website built with responsive web design because obviously more and more users are accessing the same content across multiple devices, and at different points in the “sales funnel.”
Is it “enough” that my site is responsive?
So your company designs websites. It’s great you’re now even designing responsive sites…but just because your website “looks right” across all devices…is that enough? The answer is, obviously “No.” But, why?
Because at this point in the (online) game, it’s not about “does your site work on laptops, tablets AND phones?” No, at this point — after responsive web design has been around for several years (check out the beginning stages of RWD) — it’s “how well does your site CONVERT across all devices?” And mobile conversions — or, really, any conversions — don’t magically happen just because your website is responsive.
So how do I make responsive web design work for me?
If you merely design a site that’s “responsive” (i.e., shows up across all desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones) but you don’t put any effort into HOW the pages appear on each device (where things are laid out, how’s the navigation look, etc.) then you haven’t “optimized” the experience; you’ve just made it responsive.
I can’t reiterate enough: each website has a purpose. A goal it wants the end user to reach. RWD isn’t a solution to getting users to take action; it’s a design method. How you’ve “told” the responsive portion of the coding to lay out the home page, internal pages, navigation, calls-to-action, etc. is how you ensure your mobile traffic is going to convert just like your laptop/desktop traffic does.
Not only should your website be responsive; your PPC landing pages should be, too. The truth of the matter is, more and more people are utilizing mobile devices to access all kinds of information online. If you’re not catering to them you’re behind the times.