How does your site look to visitors using mobile devices? If your pages are hard to view or difficult to navigate on a small screen you are probably loosing traffic, sales and goodwill. Responsive web design adapts your page format to fit the screen size of the viewer. This posts looks at the trends on mobile and tablet usage that should inform how you present your web pages. Plus what you need to know about making your site responsive.
More mobile traffic to your web pages
The sharp and continuing increase of smartphones in the UK means that all site owners need to be considering how they present their content online. eMarketer projects that by 2014, two out of three mobile phone users and 53.7% of the UK population will use smartphones. By 2017 they forecast, 43.4 million smartphone users which will account for nearly 81% of mobile phone users and two-thirds of all people in the UK.
This is obviously an change that cannot be ignored but the compelling stats do not stop there. What people do or the “behaviours” of smartphone/tablet users is also significant. It has been predicted that mobile will account for 11.5% of online sales in the UK for 2013 – an increase on last year on 10.2%.
In the build-up to Christmas last year around 24% of online UK customers used their mobiles or tablets to visit a retail website. The ever increasing popularity of smartphone and tablet technology suggests that this figure will make a significant rise again in the run up to Christmas 2013.
Other mobile activities that will impact on how your site performs for visitors include:
Tablet top 3 activities
- Research item
- Check prices
- Read reviews
Smartphone top 3 activities
- Use store locator
- Check prices
- Research item
See more mobile activity stats here >>
According to Google’s own research 94% of smartphone users search for local info, 51% visit the store they searched for and 29% make a purchase.
All of these stats demonstrate that you need to be taking the mobile visitor seriously. Is it effecting you right now? You might be thinking that this only applies to retailers if so check your analytics and see how much traffic you are already getting via mobiles and tablets. Look also at the levels of engagement and bounce rate for these visitors. If they are having a poor user experience on their small screens there will probably be a significant difference between this group and your desktop visitors. The discrepancy between the two is only likely to increase over time with your site effectiveness decreasing at a similar rate.
What to do?
You can make a mobile-friendly site and reach out and engage with those millions of users. However there are more than 232 sizes of screens available in different devices and the variety is growing. This is where responsive design comes in.
Instead of creating 232 different layouts for your website to be loaded on separate devices (and who knows how many more as technology advances), you can create a single format that will fit itself automatically to the screen it is displayed on. Since this layout is ‘responding’ to the screen size, this is called responsive web design.
What is responsive web design?
In a nutshell it is designing and coding your website with a flexible and fluid layout. This fluidity provides the ability to adapt to the visitors device/screen size so that images and other elements of the site adapt to present a satisfactory user experience.
You can build a separate version of your site optimised for mobile however there are drawbacks :
- You have to maintain two separate sets of web pages with the extra work and content issues that arise from that.
- Duplicate content can invoke SEO penalties unless you take good care with you coding
- Different versions of the same page can potentially split the page rank and authirity of those page angain harming your SEO.
It is as well to look to the main source of you search traffic for some guidance on this. Google’s Engineer Matt Cutts and oracle on these matters discussed this issue in a recent webmaster help video.
“In general, I wouldn’t worry about a site that is using responsive design losing SEO benefits because by definition you’ve got the same URL,” Cutts said. “So in theory, if you do a mobile version of the site, if you don’t handle that well and you don’t do the rel=canonical and all those sorts of things, then you might, in theory, divide the PageRank between those two pages. But if you have responsive design then everything is handled from one URL, so the PageRank doesn’t get divided, everything works fine.”
Getting started with responsive web design
I doesn’t have to be a big budget option. There are many off the shelf options that allow even the smallest of businesses to make their site responsive. For as little as £30-£40 you can purchase a customisable template that will give you what you need. These are available for static HTML sites or for use with the main blogging platforms such as wordpress.
If you would like to get more responsive for you site visitors why not get in touch. We can offer you affordable help to get you up and running. Contact us here >>