Article

Rick Barron
Rick Barron 28 August 2019

Being Responsive

The purpose of responsive design is to have one site, but with different elements that respond differently when viewed on devices of different sizes.

Responsive web design is the practice of building a website suitable to work on every device and every screen size, no matter how large or small, mobile or desktop. Responsive web design is focused around providing an intuitive and gratifying experience for everyone. Desktop computer and cell phone users alike all benefit from responsive websites.

Additionally, responsive design is a way to put together a website so that it automatically scales its content and elements to match the screen size on which it is viewed. It keeps images from being larger than the screen width and prevents visitors on mobile devices from needing to do extra work to read your content.

The responsive web design term itself was coined, and largely developed, by Ethan Marcotte, to describe a new way of designing for the ever-changing web. If you haven’t, check out his book Responsive Web Design, which is a good read.

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In 2015, Google announced on its Webmaster Central blog that was is expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. According to the blog, “users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices” as a result of this shift.

What did this change mean?

  • For users, this change means that when searching from a mobile device, the top results will be easier to use and have been verified to work more effectively on the device.
  • For Webmasters, this means that you need to make sure your site is mobile-friendly and that you test this capability.
  • For Enterprises, this means that your site has to be mobile-friendly or you risk losing search engine exposure and potential customers.

These changes don’t only impact websites, there are implications for applications as well. The blog continues to say that “we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.”

What’s the impact?

Going forward, the mobile-friendliness of a website will be a ranking factor in mobile search results. Don’t be surprised. This change was inevitable, especially because more and more people are accessing the Internet through their mobile device.

Two areas of impact will be:

  • More mobile-friendly sites will rank in search results
  • There will be more relevant app content in search results

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The biggest update to Google’s search algorithm is that they would be expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal throughout mobile search results. Google stated that the change would affect worldwide mobile search results in all languages and will have a significant impact on their search results. The big benefit here is that it makes it easier for users to get relevant, high-quality results that are optimized for their device.

Google also announced that apps that are indexed through App Indexing would begin to show more prominently in mobile search results. 

So what does this mean for your business?

Mobile devices are part of everyday life. In fact, studies have shown that the average smartphone user checks their phone up to 150 times per day. Yes, 150 times per day! If your business’ site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on some serious opportunities.

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There’s a difference between having a mobile version of your site and having a responsive site. Responsive website design requires that you only have one website that is coded to adapt all screen sizes. This means that regardless of whether someone is on a tablet or a desktop computer, your website will be easy to read and navigate.

It’s a different story for a mobile version. What this equates to is a mobile version of a site is a completely separate site that requires you to have a second, mobile-only website. Mobile sites are not built for different screen sizes, and this often causes issues with readability, loading times, display, and navigation.

Responsive design is by far the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile-friendly website. One of the biggest benefits of responsive sites is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size, not the device. This means that a responsive site will adapt to future devices (TVs, watches, glasses, etc.), meaning your website will look beautiful regardless of the screen size. Additionally, having a single URL makes it easier for Google to crawl your site and reduces the chance of on-page SEO errors. Responsive sites typically perform better and are easier to maintain than a separate mobile site.

If your website isn’t already responsive and mobile-friendly, it’s essential that you make this change before the new Google update takes effect.

References

  1. Google Mobile-Friendly Testing tool
  2. Examples of great Responsive Web Design Companies
  3. 5 Reasons You Absolutely Must Optimize Your Website for Mobile
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