In the last post, responsive web design was introduced as a concept and we looked at reasons as to why, as a website owner, it is time to consider making your site responsive. This time round, as an extension, we're going to take a look in a bit more detail about the benefits that having a responsive site can bring and where your investment will be most felt. These are not in order of importance, the difference it can make will be felt in different ways on different sites.
Usability + good user experience = userbrilliance
There is nothing technical about this as a concept! It stands to reason that the more user-friendly anything is, the more likely people are to use it, keep using it, and come back to use it again. Websites are no different in this regard. Having a desktop site rendered on a mobile often does not represent a good user experience and can be quite the opposite, providing a difficult-to-navigate and frustrating experience for your users, potentially preventing them from achieving what they set out to do, and discouraging them from returning to your site.
The simple fact that your website becomes more easy to use for users on the new breed of mobile devices means a better experience and vastly increases the likelihood of a user staying on your site for longer and doing what you want them to do, be it making an enquiry, sharing some content or completing a purchase. With an increasing percentage of traffic on mobile devices, it becomes evermore important to provide for these users and not prevent them from doing these things. Switching to a responsive solution, you can expect to see a marked increase on website conversions for users on mobile devices. Furthermore, any improvement to your site’s usage will positively impact your site's ranking, which we can look at in a bit more detail...
Responsive sites and SEO, the smart move for smart phones
For business website owners, worshipping at the shrine of Google is pretty much a necessity if you want to be competitive in your industry. As such, it is important to do anything you can to enhance your performance within the search engine's index. Google loves responsive sites and recommends their use (see here for details), and what's more, sites that have mobile versions are treated favourably in results for searches when they are made on mobile devices. With a mobile friendly website, you are almost certain to see a marked increase in time spent on your site from mobile devices. The longer people spend on your site, the more importance and faith Google can place in the content, boosting your rankings.
One highly detrimental effect of rendering a desktop site to mobile users is a high bounce rate. That is to say a user takes one look at your site, and they're very quickly gone again. Possibly bouncing off to another site which works better on their mobile. Google uses this metric as an indicator of content relevance and, on sites with a high bounce rate, that users aren't finding what they have searched for when clicking on a search result. Presenting your site in a user-friendly way on mobile devices significantly eradicates this effect, with users much more likely to be engaged by the content, rather than deterred, encouraging them to stay and again boosting your site's ranking.
Responsive web design says a lot about you too
The modern breed of web user is likely to have a multitude of devices that are able to render websites available to them. Having a website that will present itself well on any one of these devices, yet using the same content, instils confidence in your brand and is evidence of a progressive, forward-thinking company.
One aspect of brand confidence comes from its online image, and showing users that thought, time and effort have been put into providing a mobile friendly website for your brand can only be beneficial when it comes to customer confidence. Mobile friendly websites are still greatly in the minority, so aside from the other real benefits it brings, it also represents an opportunity to make a long term difference and gain an advantage over the competition.
Is there more?
Yep. Definitely. These are just a handful of benefits that responsive web design can bring to your website, there are plenty more that could be covered, but we couldn't possibly list them all! The increased use of mobile devices will continue to rise and, if your website is intended to stay long term, at some point mobile users should be catered for with as much importance put on them as desktop users.
In brief, by providing a better experience for your users on mobile devices, your website works harder for you and puts you in a stronger position to attract and keep visitors. This, in turn, can only have a positive effect on your SEO performance.
In the next post in this series we'll take a look briefly at how responsive web designs work, but also at how much of a difference in real terms you can expect to see from adopting a mobile friendly approach.