What is Responsive Design?
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to website design and development that relies on flexible layouts, fluid images, and media queries to create web pages that change their structure depending on device screen size. RWD aims to provide an optimal user experience – legible text and images, intuitive navigation, and minimal scrolling and zooming – based on the size of the screen on the visitor’s device.
In other words, a responsive website will retain its essential content and features but will change its layout based on whether it’s on a phone, tablet, or desktop monitor. Instead of having separate mobile and desktop sites, which requires the maintenance of more than one website, everything is wrapped up in one easy to manage bundle of code.
From an SEO perspective, responsive design should be a vital aspect of any internet marketing strategy for several reasons:
1. Increased mobile usage
Over 80% of global Internet users own a smartphone, and 53% of Internet usage is through a mobile device. That means that mobile usage has surpassed desktop/laptop usage, and the numbers continue to grow. Users are increasingly accessing social media, checking email, getting directions, or looking for business information such as phone numbers, addresses, hours, or product availability via smartphone or tablet. Smartphone owners use them everywhere, during commutes, at work, while shopping, even in the bathroom. However, mobile users will quickly leave a site if it’s difficult to access.
2. Social Media Drives Website Traffic
More than 80% of social media consumption is through mobile devices. Sharing links on Facebook and Twitter is the new word-of-mouth. Social media drives traffic to your website, which is why it’s essential to have a solid social media marketing strategy. Having a Facebook page and a Google My Business listing is a great start. But having a lot of page likes won’t be beneficial if a smartphone user lands on a non-responsive site. There’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately, most likely to check out a competitor’s site.
3. It makes Google happy
Google launched an algorithm in 2015 that gives a boost in search rankings to sites that are responsive. While a mobile-friendly website is not necessarily responsively designed, the algorithm provides extra weight to sites that share the same code as well as the same URL. Your website with rank higher on Google if your mobile and desktop sites are one in the same. If you’re wondering whether your site meets Google’s new criteria, you can use its mobile-friendly testing tool to find out.
4. Responsive Sites Benefit Local Business
Approximately 50% of consumers that used a smartphone to search for a local store visit that store within 24 hours. This number drops to 34% for consumers searching on a desktop or tablet. Companies with responsive websites saw an 18% increase in sales from local customers. Frequently potential customers are already out shopping when they access a local business site in search of item availability, price, or sale price. This behavior can be a goldmine for a business with a responsive website and a robust mobile marketing plan. On the other hand, customers who can’t find what they want in a short period (usually around 15 seconds) will move on to another website – and another store.
6. Mobile Users Represent a Wider Demographic
Almost everyone owns a smartphone or tablet. The same can’t be said for laptops and desktops anymore. Smartphones are cheap, portable, widely available, and don’t have much of a learning curve. In parts of the world where having a laptop or pc is impractical, smartphones are the preferred means of accessing the internet. An intelligent mobile marketing plan combined with a website that is easy to read, fast, and informative on all screen sizes can enable a business to leverage its target demographic.
Having a responsive website makes sense for small businesses looking to compete in local, or larger, markets. As smartphone and tablet usage surpasses that of laptops and desktops, content and code must be flexible enough to work well with a variety of devices and screen sizes. Also, Google downgrades non-responsive sites. Responsive design makes websites faster, easier to read and more interactive. Responsive design is not operating system dependent, which allows websites to be built inexpensively and efficiently maintained.