If your recollection of 2015's "Mobilegeddon" is a little hazy, don't feel bad. That ominous term, coined by web developers in 2015, referred to what many feared would be an earth-shattering change to Google’s search algorithm. As part of a major shift in its approach to rankings, the update would give preference to websites that Google deemed to be "mobile friendly." Needless to say, there was quite a bit of anxiety in the months leading up to this switch as many companies feared that their websites would be penalized. Ultimately, the change did have some impact on searches initiated from mobile devices but rankings on searches from desktop and laptop computers showed no change. As over-hyped as the effects of "Mobilegeddon" might have been at the time, the episode did send an unmistakable message: mobile web browsing is no longer the future. In fact, for companies that are serious about connecting with customers and prospects, it’s the here and now.
In the fall of 2016, worldwide mobile internet usage surpassed desktop usage for the first time in history. By the beginning of 2017, mobile broadband subscriptions had increased to 4.6 billion globally and are expected to double in the next five years. Given these statistics, we can no longer say that “mobile is taking over.” Mobile has taken over! The number of mobile web users are growing and if many of your customers are among their ranks, their experience on your site should be a concern for you. If your website is not mobile friendly, it’s not really user friendly either. If you’re uncertain about your banking site’s mobile friendliness, there are resources available. Google and Bing both offer mobile friendliness checkers but the quickest way to see if your site is ready for mobile is to simply pull it up on your smartphone in a browser. If you must resize the display to read the text or use the menu, you may need to consider a redesign to make your site responsive.
MOBILE FRIENDLY? MOBILE READY? ADAPTIVE? RESPONSIVE? What's the difference?
All of these buzzwords and industry terms can be confusing but just remember, while adaptive and responsive refer to different ways to build a mobile-friendly site, all of these terms mean basically the same thing. So, for now, let’s focus on Responsive Web Design. Responsive Web Design – sometimes referred to as RWD – is one of the top trends in web design and for good reason. Nielsen Norman Group, an industry leader in usability and design studies, defines RWD as “a web development approach that creates dynamic changes to the appearance of the website, depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it.” The keyword here is dynamic. The dynamic, changing nature of responsive web design opens the door to creativity in your site for any device. How does this work? There are several approaches, including the use of CSS and fluid grids, but the important thing to remember is that, if done well, the end result is a design that provides an exceptional user experience no matter what device your visitor is using. A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE CAN SAVE YOU BOTH TIME AND MONEY!
While user experience is always important, an easier sell for decision makers may be the cost benefits of responsive design. Compared to a desktop version with a stand-alone mobile site, a responsive design can provide the following benefits:
- Content updates are faster and easier because they can be made in one place. This also means that you’re less likely to have content errors and new information can be pushed out faster.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts on the desktop version of your site are automatically applied to your mobile presence as well.
- By offering your mobile users an optimized version, you are more likely to rank higher on mobile searches (see “Mobilegeddon”).
It’s important to remember that any website redesign can cost significant dollars, but a responsive design is money well spent. Ask yourself what kind of devices your future customers will be using to visit your site and the answer becomes clear. An investment in a mobile friendly site is an investment in the future of your business.
Jeff Enlow is the manager of LRS Web Solutions. LRS Web Solutions provides custom web design and development to help companies grow their business as a division of Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc., a global provider of information technology solutions since 1979. Based in Springfield, Illinois, LRS Web Solutions employs a team of nearly thirty specialists in the areas of web design, graphic design, web application development, mobile and app development, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, creative services, audio and video production, hosting, and technology support. For more information, please visit www.LRSWebSolutions.com.