(This post has been updated to reflect statistics for 2017 - Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 Minutes)
Not to frighten you, but we’re fast approaching a major technology juncture.
In 2008, Mary Meeker, an analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers who reviews technology trends, made a bold prediction that come 2014 mobile internet usage would surpass desktop access. Since then, many more studies have reinforced her forecast, showing steady increase in mobile internet activity.
One such report, from Intelligent Positioning, looked at UK internet traffic in particular. Based on the growth in mobile traffic in 2013 - 2014, it represented a crucial turning point.
The report also reveals that of the ~37% mobile traffic, 2/3 comprises smartphone views and the remaining third tablet hits.
The trend would continue ...
The 2016 Mary Meeker report from last year highlighted the rising search from various devices, surpassing that of desktop visits. The astonishing rise in voice search was one of the key differentiators in that report. So what does all this data mean for marketers? It boils down to the fact that our websites – our marketing hubs – need to be designed to cater for a wide spectrum of users interacting with our site from a number of devices.
Enter responsive website design.
What Exactly is Responsive Website Design?
Responsive web design (or RWD for short) is a methodology that allows the layout of a website to adapt for the host of screen sizes and devices accessing it. In marketers terms it is the way that those clever website design and development chaps make sure that our website looks awesome irrespective of whether the visitor is checking in from a tablet, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Samsung S8, laptop, notebook or desktop computer.
A few years ago we addressed this by offering a mobi site to be called up based on the screen size the visitor was using to view our site. This approach made sense for about 30 digital nanoseconds. With the explosion of different internet capable devices in the market, with varying screen sizes, this approach staled quickly. It worked well for some and totally crashed with others.
Fortunately RWD alleviates the issues arising from the seemingly illogical ‘mobile template’ tactic.
3 Reasons Responsive Web Design is the Way to Go
Responsive web design puts the user experience at the forefront of the website experience. We want our visitors to have a positive interaction with our website. If we’re serving up a site that is going to require a lot of effort on their part to navigate and engage with, we are going to loose those visitors very quickly, leading to high bounce rates and low conversion rates. RWD ensures that they experience the most positive interaction possible, irrespective of the device they are using. This is a win-win situation as we can increase our reach to mobile and tablet audiences with a higher chance of converting them to leads and sales.
Google has opened declared that their preferred (read HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) approach to mobile site design is responsive. Generally speaking, if Google is telling us to do something that is going to help us rank better, we should take note. Having a single domain to crawl and index makes it easier on search engines and reduces the chances of unforced errors such as duplicate content and the like. Sites built with responsive web design also load a lot quicker than cumbersome desktop sites on a mobile device. As page speed is a contributing ranking factor, again, it is worth our while to pay attention.
The mobile site approach creates a drain on resources and hence increases costs, as there are disparate sites to develop and maintain from a technical and administrative perspective. A single copy update would have to be rolled out across both desktop and mobile versions of your site, creating additional work. With RWD, you only maintain one version, allowing for streamlined maintenance and updating, reducing the number and cost of resources required.
Overall a responsive web design makes sense for both the user and the business. With the critical turning point in mobile internet usage just around the corner, is your website ready to harness these mobile browsers and bring them into your marketing funnel? Responsive web design is key to future-proofing your website!
Learn more about responsive design and the philosophy of continuous optimisation which are all part and parcel of the Growth-Driven Design Methodology. This approach to website redesign is exactly the agile solution today's business needs.