It’s not an original thought to ramble on about the company website as the digital storefront, the hub of all your online marketing efforts, or a cliché metaphor like “the foundation of the house.” In reality, this notion has become fact. The website is the online storefront. However, now that web presence has become ubiquitous, it’s hard to differentiate yourself from the competition based upon a flashy website. Your products and services have to do the differentiating. Furthermore, providing a consistent user experience for those who inquire about your products and services is crucial.
According to InMobi, 60% of internet access is made on a mobile device; given that the average consumer spends 6 hours a day connected to the web, we’re looking at three and a half hours of mobile usage. If you’re not prepared to meet that challenge with a mobile website, you’re essentially taking a 3.5 hour lunch break at your online storefront. Last time I checked, lunch breaks that long are grounds for termination. Then there are tablets, which often play the role of second screens for couch surfers settled into a television session. All of the hardware on the market has the ability to show off your terrific website, but is your website ready to answer the bell, regardless of which device is calling?
It seems less than cost-effective to build three separate websites for mobile, tablet, and desktop/laptop users. What’s the best way to deal with the influx of traffic from all angles? It would certainly be convenient to have a website that instantly adapted to the user’s screen. This is the genius of Responsive Web Design (RWD); it’s a three-in-one solution to the problem. Using code that identifies the device, and design structures based on scales, Responsive Web Design creates a dynamic storefront, with a focus on staying readable and navigable. Check out this list of awesome examples of great Responsive Design from Misha Abasov at Mobify (follow him here).
Great responsive sites start with great design in the desktop format. Every website has its distinctive features, whether it’s a huge image, a provoking call-to-action, or a well-developed scroll through new product offerings. When the screen size shrinks, the integrity of the original design cannot be compromised. Whatever the distinguishing feature, the essence of the website remains unchanged. I liken it to action figures; you wouldn’t shrink down Superman and leave the “S” off his chest. Previous to this innovation, most mobile websites were just a logo and a menu. This served for consumers ordering a pizza from the car, but for a prospect surfing your site during their lunch break? Not so much.
Google recommends a Responsive website configuration to avoid redirects from search engine results, as the same URL is served regardless of the device. Often, users would search for a business, click to the website and get redirected to the mobile site at a separate URL, which would take a good bit of time to load. I know I’ve hit the back button a few times in lieu of waiting for a page to load; I’m not alone. Redirects and slow loads are a lousy way to lose both traffic and business. From the front end (user experience) to the back end (the website’s coding), Responsive Design is a keystone solution to constantly evolving digital tech.
Wondering how your site stacks up? Use this tool from Google to do a speedy check of your site’s performance. If you already have a mobile site, it could still be worth your while long term to convert your site to a responsive one. However, if your existing site doesn’t stack up, the move is to go responsive. In 2014, it’s undeniable.
Looking for more information on responsive design? We can help.
Matt Graul is Project Marketing Manager for Wicked Local Media Solutions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.