Mobile Responsive Web Design
According to Google, 80% of people use their smartphones for internet searches while over 50% of total internet traffic comes from people on their mobile devices. Consequently, on April 21, 2015 Google updated their search algorithm to change the way your website ranks when people are searching on their smartphones to favor mobile-friendly websites.
If your website is not mobile friendly, the train is rapidly leaving the station and chances are, you are currently being penalized by Google in their search rankings. We recommend you take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out what you can do to make your site more mobile friendly.
Mobile design is more than a matter of making things smaller. For example, you might have a 19” desktop screen with dimensions 1440 x 900 pixels, whereas your iPhone 7 is 750 x 1334 pixels – almost complete opposites in terms of shape / size. So, mobile design calls for a totally different strategy.
There are two main types of mobile design options / philosophies:
Responsive websites detect what device from which a visitor is browsing – laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone – and adjusts the page layout accordingly. Responsive design stacks page elements as the screen gets smaller. Images and menus for example are realigned vertically or horizontally to optimize the user’s experience for their particular device.
The benefits of responsive websites are that everything works on a single URL and your branding is consistent across all devices because the same elements are being intelligently rearranged. The disadvantage is that it can be challenging to completely optimize sites for mobile experience because mobile users have different expectations and needs. Also, since the same HTML is used for desktop / mobile users, it can affect site speed as the page has to load more code to tell the page what to do on which devices.
Dedicated Mobile Sites
The alternative to responsive mobile design is to create a two separate sites – one for desktop / laptop users and one for mobile. This allows you to tailor your content to the separate needs and expectations of both types of users. Dedicated mobile sites generally load faster and perform better than responsive because design is tailored to each respective device.
However, there are a few major disadvantages in this approach. First, it can be more expensive to pay for the building and maintenance of two different sites. Designers are challenged with the task of keeping the branding and content consistent across both designs. Further, it raises the possibility of mobile visitors stumbling upon the desktop site, and visa versa. Website Designers must take additional server-side steps to ensure that users see the appropriate site based on which type of device they are using.
In addition to the two types of mobile responsive designs, there are further considerations:
There are distinct differences between mobile visitors and desktop. Mobile users are generally more goal-oriented – i.e. they want to get in and out quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. If they land on a non-responsive or optimized site and can’t easily find what they’re looking for within the first few seconds, they’ll bounce. A good Web Designer knows this and pays careful attention to detail when it comes to creating an ideal user experience that contributes to the website’s purpose and overall company goals.
First and foremost, your mobile website must actually work! Slow load time and difficult to navigate interfaces will drastically reduce mobile user commitment and conversion rates. While desktop users generally have similar goals, as long as the desktop design layout is simple and aesthetically pleasing, sometimes that’s all that’s needed to achieve the goal. On mobile though, the site has to work, has to be easy, and has to be fast.
Striking a Balance Between Performance and Design
As advanced as smartphones are, they still lack the horsepower of a powerful desktop computer. Therefore, a good Web Designer must take steps to strike a balance between performance and design – especially for responsive sites. This often necessitates a compromise between your ideal design / layout and your user’s experience. For example, you might want to show video backgrounds with all types of fancy animations. While these might work perfectly for desktop users, these types of features can bog down your site with excess code and slow performance for less patient mobile users. A good designer must understand your site’s effect on RAM and bandwidth. Design differences between mobile and desktop are often most pronounced in the navigation menu. Desktop menus and links optimize horizontal screen space, while mobile menus optimize vertical screen space, stacking elements and sometimes using additional drop-down menus Another consideration is bandwidth. Bandwidth fluctuates for mobile users from one location to the next, so design must still perform well even in areas of weak signal. This might require not relying on excessively dynamic content or omitting some elements on the mobile version.
Branding and content are paramount. A company’s mobile web design must reflect the company’s brand and work to achieve their goal. Mobile users tend to go straight to a site, as opposed to randomly stumbling upon them through Google, so ensuring a good mobile user experience is essential to establishing and maintaining a strong brand.
Are Desktops Becoming Obsolete?
Probably not, although no one knows what things are going to be like 10 years from now. Despite advancements in smartphone technology, there are still many instances in which desktops are more convenient and necessary. It is more likely that sites will be built with mobile users in mind first and foremost, as users begin to favor mobile devices more and more.
What to do if your website is not mobile friendly…
If you do business online, you’ll definitely want to hire someone to make sure your website helps you achieve your business goals – and that starts with having a good looking, mobile-friendly website that’s easy to navigate and is cleanly coded with well written copy to help you rank well in search engines like Google.
The Web Design Pros™ Promise
Web Design Pros™ is a premiere web design agency with satelite offices in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia that provides custom website design for businesses, brands, and professionals of all shapes and sizes. We love taking on projects that require full-on content integration, thoughtful design, custom development, as well as projects that support our mission to make businesses more accessible and to help them grow.
Our Promise Is Two-Fold
- Your site will perform like a champ on mobile devices and look, feel, and function much better than it currently does.
- You’re site will meet Google’s mobile criteria, will not need to be updated for a very long-time, and your business will not be hurt by the latest search algorithm updates.
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