Is Responsive Design Really Worth It?

Here’s an interesting piece of statistic: by the end of 2013, around 156 million Americans used an Internet enabled mobile phone. On average, American adults use their PCs for Internet around 27 hours a month, while on the other hand people spend around 34 hours every month using mobile Internet.

In fact, in 2014 mobile browsing is expected to account for 50% of all web traffic.

So there really isn’t a question of whether or not you need to have a mobile optimized site, its clear you definitely do. The question then becomes, what’s the best way?

Should I have a separate mobile site
or a responsive site?

To answer that question you have to first know the difference.

A mobile website is a site designed and built for a mobile device, usually a smartphone of some sort. You could do the same with a tablet but as far as I have seen that is far less common.

Now responsive design on the other hand is like water (or any liquid substance for that matter), it takes the shape of any container you pour it into.

A responsive website works similarly. It changes its layout to fit the size of the screen it’s accessed on.

However, instead of shrinking or expanding to fill the screen, it takes the different building blocks of your website and it alters the arrangement of the page, while retaining the overall theme.

See this example for the Sasquatch Music Festival to see how effective responsive website can be…

Sasquatch Music Festival

Responsive design allows you to have just one website to offer a consistent experience to all your visitors no matter what their screen size.

How will this affect my SEO?

For businesses trying to find a footing in the virtual world, Google is the kingmaker. If you can squeeze your way into the good books of Google, you are a winner. Since easy access to information is the center point of Google’s ideology, the search giant has a special regard for responsive websites.

Users have come to expect to see the information they want regardless of the device they are using. If your site isn’t giving a user what they want and they immediately hit back and return to the search results, it may negatively impact your rankings for that search term.

Regardless of the SEO implications your users want an easy-to-use mobile experience and if they don’t get it 61% of users will go to a competitor who does have a mobile-friendly website.

As Google states on their website “…making a website that is friendly to smartphone users has now become a critical part of website management.” And of the options available for building a mobile website, Google recommends a responsive solution.

Additionally, when you have a responsive website, you only need to optimize just the one site. All of your SEO and traffic generating efforts all go into one website, maximizing your time and money. The technical aspects of generating traffic are also much easier to handle when you have just one website to work with. All these factors give a major boost to your position in the search engines.

[quote style=”boxed”]Every interaction with your customers is marketing. Make sure you’re sending the right message.[/quote]

How does my business benefit?

Responsive web design gives your customers the advantage of a consistent experience regardless of the device they access your site on.

Imagine a customer visits your site at work, they get interrupted and save your website to review later. A few hours later while eating lunch they pull out their iPhone and flip through your site only to find out that have to tap and zoom and scroll and tap and zoom and scroll. You’ve lost that customer.

Now imagine the opposite were true. They seamlessly went from desktop to phone and picked up right where they left off. They arrive home, pour a glass of wine and sit down with their iPad and again are greeted with a mobile friendly website.

The difference is in the first scenario you lost the sale, and not only lost the sale but frustrated your customer. In the second scenario you gained fan, you made the sale, they shared their purchase with their friends on Facebook, all because you gave them a friendly, consistent experience with your company. Every interaction with your customers is marketing. Make sure you’re sending the right message.

Break this down for me

Be Seen

A responsive website is a key part to your online strategy. Your responsive website is likely to obtain a higher place on search engines (especially in mobile searches), the visibility of your website increases, and your business improves.

Track & Improve

Every business owner worth his or her salt understands the importance of analytics. With a responsive website, you can consolidate analytics and study them on a single platform. This makes analytics a lot easier. Imagine how cumbersome it’d be to keep track of two different websites!

Save Time & Money

Managing only one site will save you time, which is a precious business resource. With a responsive website, you also save on costs because you don’t have to pay for development, maintenance, publicity and optimization of two websites.

What Do You Think?

You’ve got my two cents – what do you think? Have you been thinking about building a responsive website? What’s stopped you?

Or do you already have a responsive site? What are the benefits you’ve seen to your business?

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