By now you’ve heard the warnings: “Mopocalypse” is upon us. Google’s most significant shift in its search algorithm in years is just around the corner. But the question remains: What can I do about it? If your website hasn’t been deemed “mobile friendly” by Google, you run the risk of your website falling off the dreaded SEO cliff into obscurity. The time to act is now.
The best solution, and the most proactive one, is to embrace Responsive Web Design, or RWD. In fact, Google has advocated responsiveness in websites for years, and it’s the approach we at RP3 favor as well.
What Is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is a technique for building websites in a way that browsers of all sizes can display content optimally for that device. Instead of a server determining what kind of browser or device you’re using (a technique referred to as “browser sniffing”), the code is optimized to conform to the dimensions of any browser.
Why Is Responsive Web Design Better Than Mobile-Only or “m dot” Sites?
Mobile-only sites have a number of problems. Having to support separate codebases, and in many cases, two distinct sets of content, can cause a maintenance nightmare. Additionally, Google has for years punished sites that duplicate content across different web domains, which is often how mobile-only versions of non-responsive sites work. With RWD, you have one website to maintain, and you can guarantee that the same content that is offered to desktop visitors is available to mobile visitors as well.
How Does Responsive Web Design Accommodate Touch-Screen Devices?
The key to RWD is progressive enhancement. Instead of relying on features that may or may not be present on a browser (such as the ability to hover over an element to reveal content), RWD will make allowances for browsers that don’t have a pointer device other than your finger. We can apply special code to test for these situations, and create a user experience that fits the circumstances.
What About Performance?
Simply creating a website that will fit screens from 3.5 to 80 inches and beyond isn’t the only requirement. Websites need to perform well across a wide range of connection conditions. Ideally, your website should load in one second or less to maximize engagement and conversions. Unless your site is built responsibly, as well as responsively, you could end up with long load times as small devices struggle to download content optimized for large screens on high-bandwidth connections.
This is by no means a “quick” fix. Redesigning your website responsively can be a massive undertaking that will force you to re-evaluate your content and the user experience you offer your visitors. But the rewards are well worth it. In addition to gaining a “mobile friendly” designation now, you’ll be preparing your site for unknown devices coming in the future.
Here at RP3, you could say Responsive Web Design is in our DNA. We’ve written about it and spoken about it for years. Since the earliest days of our Creative Technology team (and in fact, even before then), our developers have built responsive websites exclusively to meet the challenges of this ever-growing segment of the online audience. In doing so, we transformed the website of Norfolk Southern, bringing to it a rich, responsive experience. We redesigned the Washington Area Women’s Foundation website responsively, and saw immediate gains in engagement. And when we created a new online home for Johns Hopkins Medicine in the DC area, our mobile-friendly solution generated a record number of leads while reducing the cost-per-lead by 40%.
We like to think we’ve been ahead of the curve when it comes to addressing the challenges of a multi-device landscape, and have educated our clients to the increasing importance mobile plays in establishing their online brand. Are you ready to work with us to do the same?