The world of websites seems to be split into two groups these days: those which understand what the mobile push means, and those who still use websites designed 15 years ago. With the latest changes in SEO and device adoption, the laggards will finally be weeded out.
I am always surprised by how many companies are reluctant to invest in new web design. I mean, you wouldn't use the same sales catalog for 15 years. Even logos seem to get updated more often than websites.
We recently did a survey in Asia and found that a staggering 27% of corporate websites were designed before 2005. That's millennia in digital times. Companies don't seem to understand that it matters a great deal whether you use modern, responsive web design or not. For those who still don't get it, here's a quick run-down:
The age of surfing websites on PCs is over
Over 85% of traffic is now coming from mobile devices. It is no longer enough to have a site, your site must constantly evolve to meet the display options of a mobile marketplace. Exactly how your website is displayed changes with every new iteration of devices.
Right now, responsive web design is an essential part of creating a user-friendly mobile web experience. Search engines are already punishing websites which are not mobile friendly. That means people searching for your products will not find you, period.
Observe your own browsing behavior: most of it is done on phones and tablets, while you are on public transport, waiting at the doctor's office, or sitting in the park. Having a separate mobile version is no longer feasible and way too costly. Multiple sites mean that you have multiple pages being indexed by Google, and your traffic will likely be split between the two. Crafting your page to be responsive out of the gate lets you contain everything on a single page that is clean, organized, and fully functional for mobile use.
Of course, mobile means that people don't have a keyboard and are less willing to fill in a lot of information. Making your site mobile-friendly isn't just a technical jargon, it means rethinking the entire user interaction with the site.
Speaking of Google indexing… Responsive web design contributes to your SEO value. With only one page to index rather than two, Google has an easier time collecting data about your page. It also reduces the likelihood of on-page SEO errors. Not to mention that responsive websites, which generally offer a streamlined user experience, will receive more page hits and conveys authority and quality to your audience.
Responsive web design truly shines when you consider the bizarre new Internet browsing options being made available to us. While most of us use smartphones, we also use tablets, game consoles, PCs, smartwatches, TVs, and whatever other display technology will come out tomorrow. There are an estimated 390 different screen sizes in use just for smartphones around the world.
Good luck finding standardized screen sizes across all these different devices. Responsive web design, being based on screen size itself rather than a device, ensures that your site will always display correctly across each unique product. This will pay off now but is also an investment in the future. Our love affair with non-traditional Internet browsing isn't dying anytime soon.
And yet, only 15% of government websites in Asia and fewer than 30% in Europe use responsive web design. Time to get a facelift!
Responsive web design and mobile adoption is all about simplicity. It's designed to make the browsing experience simple for your users, but developers can benefit from the simplicity as well.
Having a single page URL (rather than a primary one with a mobile cousin) lets you focus your marketing on a single campaign. All of your traffic can be directed to a single landing page, regardless of the browsing device. This is also true for social sharing metrics, your online Google reputation, and just about anything else that applies to your page's domain. Single is simple.
It's Not Too Late
Although the responsive design push is well underway, it's not too late to reap the benefits for your own site. Responsive web design is both part of the past and a trend for the future. It won’t be long before we start browsing the Internet through our glasses, our wristbands, our AR and VR headsets, and who knows what's next. Fostering a culture of constant adaptation is essential for your marketing and also your technical team.
The changes are coming, and your site must be ready for the ride. If you don't update your website now, don't be surprised if nobody comes to visit.