Responsive Web Design in 2018: A necessity not a luxury

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Mobile is no longer secondary

With web traffic from mobile devices continuing to increase, the mobile version of a website can no longer be thought of as secondary to the desktop design/user experience. According to recent research by Search Engine Land, 52 – 60% of web leads are now coming in from mobile devices, making the way that a site looks and functions on mobile equal to, if not more important than, the desktop version of the same site. These numbers are expected to rise, so now is the time for companies to recognize the importance of non-desktop traffic (mobile and tablet) and understand how to leverage responsive design to appeal and convert mobile visitors.

Historically, web design firms thought “desktop first,” and would create a beautiful desktop design, while the mobile version simply mirrored the desktop to fit phones, iPads and other tech. Today, the mobile version needs to be just as carefully designed as the desktop version. For example, separate screenshots need to be built out for the mobile user which cater to their specific experience. Menu structures may also differ, reducing the number of steps it takes to move the mobile user through the sales process.

 

How We Use the Web Has Changed

Gone are the days of the website serving as an “online brochure.” Today’s consumers want to interact with a company and their brand(s) – particularly the types of consumers coming in via mobile devices. Mobile consumers want to see reviews, ask questions, and really get to know a company before reaching out. Once engaged, mobile users may require different calls to action than desktop visitors. For example, a short contact form, click-to-call buttons, and clickable addresses are a must.

 

Conversion Rates Have Changed

Back in the “desktop first” days, it was assumed that visitors coming in from tablets/mobile devices were just browsing and conversions or purchase decisions were made by desktop users. Times have changed! In 2017, tablets accounted for the highest add-to-cart rates on eCommerce websites. Weighing in at a whopping 8.58% conversion rate, this statistic made web designers take a step back from traditional eCommerce design methods, making the tablet experience more important than the desktop design. Smartphone conversion rates are closing the gap as well. In a study conducted on the Shopify platform during Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2017, 64% of sales were done from a smartphone, accounting for a 10% increase from the previous year.

 

Search Engines Take Notice

It’s more than just design aesthetics and user experience that make a responsive site essential. Search engines have recognized the shift toward mobile, and have adjusted the way that they rank sites. A well-optimized, responsive design website has a greater chance of ranking higher on search engine result pages than a site that does not automatically adjust to the visitor’s screen size.

What about separate mobile pages? The dated idea of designing and maintaining two separate websites (one desktop, one mobile) is not only cumbersome, but ineffective. Responsive web design (a site that automatically adjusts menus, images, and content based on the visitor’s screen size) is Google-preferred over having separate mobile web pages because having one URL makes it easier for a Googlebot to crawl your site for the best information. Google is also working on shifting their algorithms to “Mobile-First Indexing.”

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.” – Webmaster Central

In the near-future, the content a site provides on mobile will be MORE important than the content it provides on the desktop version when it comes to ranking in Google. A responsive website is essential for business owners who want to stay ahead of their competitors.

 

Local Search is Essential

According to research done by Nectafy, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device will call or go to that business within 24 hours – assuming their mobile experience is seamless. What makes for a seamless, or strong user experience? Mobile sites must be designed for the local user, with calls to action that quickly move the visitor to the next step in the purchase decision. For example, contact buttons to reach out via phone call, email, GPS navigation, and in-store offers, social sharing buttons, reviews,  and one-stop checkouts make the user experience easy and efficient. The mobile site should be simple, easy to use, and your text should be large and legible. Mobile customers are NOT looking for lengthy staff bios, information about your corporate philosophy or PDFs of your latest press releases.

 

Shared Content Loves Mobile

Over 80% of social media consumption is done via mobile device, so it is very likely that a business’s audience will be interacting with content and sharing links through networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. If the website doesn’t have responsive design, there is a very good chance that it will potentially lose a significant number of organic leads. According to Google, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site if they had trouble accessing it. Also, 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead. Need more proof? 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site. A disappointing mobile experience is inevitable if a company does not recognize the importance of responsive design.

 

Stay Ahead of the Competition

Do you have a plan? 68% of companies have integrated mobile marketing into their marketing strategy. With upcoming changes in Google, this number will only continue to rise. For businesses who want to remain competitive, a responsive design website should be item #1 on your digital marketing To-Do list.

Mobile devices are here to stay, and their impact on business is significant. If your website is lacking in its mobile experience, contact the professionals at Sikich Marketing. We are happy to provide you with a complimentary website analysis.

 

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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