Responsive Website Designs for Mobile Devices
We are entering a new era of website design – Responsive. In other words, the website automatically adjusts dimensions (width) to fit the device it is being viewed on, i.e. mobile, tablets, PC.
Responsive web designs are developer’s response to the changing dynamics of new devices. Indeed, there are so many devices out now to surf the web – all sorts to tablet sizes, all sorts of mobile sizes, fablets, and more. Responsive web design ensures your website is properly viewed across the board on all these devices.
There are so many Internet devices available nowadays - and more continually being introduced to market. A responsive website ensures your site is adaptable to all of these, and therefore reaching, and more specifically satisfying a great segment of the market. It offers consistency in browsing, content, functionalities and search engines optimisation across multiple devices.
Responsive to the user web experience
This year, mobile Internet users will overtake PC users and will continue to grow. In some markets around the world, users have actually jumped directly to mobile Internet, skipping the whole PC stage altogether. The same holds true for some demographics. For instance elderly people never having used a PC before are now finding it much easier to browse the Internet with their smartphone.
Of course the fact that mobile devices are far more accessible simply means more and more people are using them on the go – at school, work, on transport, anywhere. Furthermore, most people utilise the Internet on a mobile devices whilst multitasking, i.e. watching TV, commuting on transport, at a bar waiting for their friend, or even talking to someone (annoying I know)!
Essentially, this means your website must adapt, and ensure the user experience is easy and satisfactory on mobile devices; tablets and Smartphones.
Consider people travelling to work on the train, or standing waiting for a bus browsing the web. They are far more likely to enjoy the web browsing experience if your website is easy to use on their phone. Responsive design reduces the width of a website to single column navigation, making it much easier to scroll up-and-down with your thumb, click different links, and see everything the website has to offer in one single column view.
If they are more satisfied, they are far more likely to be converted into some form of ‘call to action’, i.e. buy your product/service, sign-up to your group.
Mobile website or responsive design?
The alternative is to have a mobile version of your site that re-directs to another URL (web address). This does indeed work well in some situations. Larger companies that simply want to offer some aspects of their website to mobile users, especially when the website is heavily dependent on specific interactive components.
Overall, which option is best for your business/organisation will no doubt depend on your case, your users' habits, and, of course, your budget. Each has pros and cons.
The main limitation to responsive sites however, is that in order for it to be adapted to mobiles it must offer a reduced (lighter) version of the website. In other words, it does not provide all the website’s content. But how then can you assume what the visitor is seeking exactly? Perhaps they are missing out on reading some valuable information, and in doing so, you missing out on a valuable client. Responsive on the other hand provides absolutely all the website’s information. Nothing misses out.
The other flaw of mobile website version is its impact on search engines optimisation (SEO). Since it has two separate URL, it seriously runs the risk of dividing page rank.
Responsive optimisation (SEO) to Google’s demands
One half of all local searches are now performed on mobile devices. So you really want to implement the best solution.
Responsive website design is the best solution when it comes to search engine optimisation. Everything is handled from one URL, so page rank does not get divided, and everything works fine. All web code and content is centralised, therefore can more quickly build credibility with search engines, trust, build and share links, and ultimately greater impact in organic search engine ranking. It also helps search engine's algorithms assign indexing properties for it.
From a web owner’s or master’s perspective, it is also much easier and more efficient to manage content.
Overall, responsive sites create a more efficient and consolidated SEO strategy, as well as for general branding. Search Engine Giant Google prefers the responsive option as opposed to mobile specific websites. Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page offers his opinion on responsive Vs mobile website:
“We don't necessarily want [our advertisers] to have mobile sites... I find I get frustrated on my phone when I hit these mobile sites... I just find it confusing... As an industry, we need to improve these experiences... I'd almost say that we shouldn't be designing for mobile. The kind of mobile phones we have now, the state of the art, are a little bit beyond, and those experiences [i.e., full websites] should work on those devices as well. I'd like to see us move in that direction.”
This is the world's leading search engine telling you how to manage your mobile website solution. As a website owner, I'm guessing this is the approach you should want to take.
Standalone mobile Applications: mobile apps fill the gap in content and feature-rich experiences left by their mobile website. While apps can be much more powerful than mobile websites, the downside is that it requires a user to install and refer specifically to it. In other words, they do not capture organic search visits. They also need regular updates, and need to be constantly installed on the deice – these days many people are uninstalling many apps they are either not satisfied with or do not absolutely require, as it chews up their device’s power.
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