Mobile-Friendly and Responsive Design: A Breakdown

Mobile-Friendly and Responsive Design: A Breakdown

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Mobile phone and laptopBy now you have surely heard a lot of noise about mobile-friendly and responsive design websites. These buzzwords have been floating around for the past several years with even more heightened urgency as Google updates the algorithm to penalize sites that don’t comply with their mobile search guidelines. However, some website owners still have not pulled the trigger to make their sites more user friendly. If you’re still on the sideline waiting to jump into the mobile game, we thought you might find an explanation and a basic breakdown of terms helpful in moving forward.

What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?

A mobile-friendly website is one that displays correctly when it is viewed on a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet. It is essentially a copy of your website with the web server delivering an optimized page that is smaller and easier to navigate on a handheld device.

What is a Responsive Design Website?

A responsive website is one that detects what type of device your site visitor is using and automatically adjusts the layout of the website to fit the size of the screen and the web browser being used (smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop). A responsive design is flexible and allows you to have one website that will make your webpages look great at any size.

Why Have a Mobile-Friendly or Responsive Website?

The main reason to have a mobile-friendly or responsive website is for improved usability. Using a mobile device to surf the internet is now the norm, so having a site that looks good on these devices is of utmost importance. If someone tries to visit your website and it looks terrible, they are likely to leave and click to the next site. Website users want to use sites that look good and are easy to navigate, so it’s important to provide that for them no matter what device they are using to view your site. As you know, it can be difficult enough to get a visitor to come to your site in the first place; once they get there, you don’t want them to be disappointed.

Mobile-Friendly vs. Responsive

Because a mobile-friendly site is not the same as your desktop site, it allows you to offer your mobile visitors a unique experience. A downside to consider is that you will have to maintain content on two sites. A mobile-friendly site is a good option when your budget doesn’t allow for a responsive site redesign. However, a mobile site requires a different domain which can impact your organic search traffic splitting your audience between two sites. As mobile devices change, updates to the mobile site might be needed, requiring maintenance and an additional expense.

A responsive design is a flexible solution which only requires one website and one domain making it easier to share the domain. For search purposes, Google considers a responsive site a better solution than a mobile site. A responsive website can save you time when site changes are made and content is updated because you only have one site to make changes to. Responsive design can be the more expensive of the two options, but it is usually a better investment in the long run. Because responsive uses a more forward thinking technology, it will not need the updates that a mobile site might need.

Breaking down the Numbers

80% of Internet users own a smartphone
As of early 2016, 39% of webpage views, worldwide, were from mobile devices
By the 3rd quarter of 2016, 48% of organic search engine visits in the US were from mobile.
Just over 1 in 10 American adults are now “smartphone only” users.

What If I Don’t Update My Website?

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly or responsive and your competitor’s website is, then you will likely lose business to your competitors especially when you consider the numbers above. If a user visits your site on a mobile device, they will quickly see that it isn’t working properly, and they will go elsewhere. Internet users expect to find sites that will work on their mobile devices. When they see a site that doesn’t comply, they will frequently assume the company doesn’t care about keeping up the site and can jump to the conclusion that the business might be lacking in other areas as well.

Search engines such as Google and Bing want your website to be mobile. They have updated their search rankings to give preference to sites that look good to mobile users; in other words, mobile compatible sites rank higher in search results. If you don’t update your website, potential customers might not be able to find your site and existing customers might become disengaged and frustrated as they realize they can’t use your site while they’re on the go.

How Do I Know If My Site Is Mobile-Friendly?

If you’re not sure if your site is mobile-friendly, Google has a free tool that will tell you. Simply paste your URL in the box and click “Run Test.”

Which Type of Website Design is best for My Business?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t standard for everyone. The right site design for you depends on your business, what your website is used for, and what visitors expect from your site as well as your timeline and your budget.

The easier it is to use and navigate your website the more likely you are to increase conversions. Mobile traffic isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s time to get off the sidelines and get into the game! Contact Unidev, and we will help you determine what your next step should be and if a mobile-friendly or responsive website is best for your business’ needs.