4 Min Read
This post has been updated for 2019.
Responsive web design has dominated websites for the past few years, transforming the way businesses build their online presence. A website with responsive web design is a site that is able to adapt the screen it is being used on, regardless of what device it is. The website automatically reformats to give the user a better experience, that is well suited to their device, and can give your site a number of benefits as well as being in line with Google recommendations.
Responsive web design was introduced back in 2010 and recommended from 2015 onwards, but there have been many other updates to web design since that are also of great importance.
In the past few years, the use of smartphones has grown rapidly. In 2014, only 22% turned to their phone first to browse the internet. Only 2/3rds of people even owned a smartphone. Since then, the roll-out of 4G internet and other innovations impacted the way people used mobile devices; throughout 2014, 4G subscriptions skyrocketed from 2.7 million to 23.6 million.
By the end of 2016, mobile web usage had overtaken desktop for the first time, which just goes to show how many people browse on smartphones and tablets instead of a laptop or desktop computer. This highlighted a dramatic shift in behaviour; with the UK using their mobile devices to shop online, carry out online banking and scroll through social media. Ofcom reported at the time, that 7 in 10 adults use a smartphone, with over-65s now more likely to use one too, as the public becomes even more tech-savvy.
For these reasons alone, it became hugely important to invest in responsive web design ; your business needs a website that works well on a smartphone or other mobile device screens, due to the sheer amount of people who could be using your website through a smartphone or tablet.
Google introduced recommendations in 2015 that related to responsive web design, and began rewarding sites that were fully optimised for mobile platforms. Google began using mobile friendliness as a ranking signal in search results. Businesses began to take note of its importance since that announcement, but now Google has moved on to even bigger heights.
More recently, Google has gone a step further and has been implementing mobile-first indexing strategies. Mobile-first indexing bases ranking and indexing from the mobile version of a site, as opposed to the desktop version. If you already have a responsive web design, then you won’t need to modify your websites. This is the most recent effort by Google to further improve mobile web experience.
As of 2018, Google announced that they were migrating sites that followed best practice in mobile-first indexing. In the past, Google crawled and indexed the desktop version of a website, but they began to notice that this caused problems for mobile users. Mobile-first indexing means that Google now primarily crawl, index and rank the mobile version of the website. Due to this, it’s more important than ever that you not only have a responsive web design, but also a solid mobile design of your website too.
With responsive web design, all content and pages are flexible across all screen resolutions and devices. Whether you’re viewing a website on your smartphone or a laptop, it will be unified and easy to navigate despite the differing screen sizes. Providing an optimal experience for the user across the board, responsive web design means your user can read and navigate the site with minimum resizing and scrolling.
Responsive web design can improve user experience which will translate into a positive perception of your brand and business. If your customer can access your website easily on all platforms, they’re more likely to return to you for more business in the future and it more than likely means a higher conversion rate for your website. In a world where so much traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s important that you’re accommodating this factor through your website.
Responsive web design, and mobile-first indexing, is now also important as a ranking factor, as mentioned earlier. Sites that are responsive will generally load faster which is likely to boost your ranking and decrease your bounce rate. Responsive web design can also make social sharing easier, helping you to grow a bigger audience for your brand.
SEO campaigns and website maintenance are also a much smoother process with a mobile friendly website. Responsive web design means you only have 1 website to look after; it’s also quicker and less expensive than making a stand-alone mobile application in addition to your desktop website.
With mobile-friendly websites now being an industry standard, especially thanks to mobile-first indexing, take a minute to ensure your web design is the best it can be.
Get in touch with us today to find out more about making sure your website design is spot on!