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Getting the Most out of Responsive Web Design: 8 Reasons to Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Optimized

Closeup shot of laptop with digitaltablet and smartphone on desk. Responsive design web page on their screen. Modern devices on desk at office.

The mobile marketing gold rush boomed last year as smartphone usage swelled to landmark proportions.

According to Pew Research, two in three Americans now own smartphones. Similarly, around the world in developed and developing countries, it’s almost impossible to find a household that doesn’t contain at least one smartphone user.

With every passing day, the proliferation of mobile devices is making fixed home phone lines and internet connections a thing of the distant past.

In fact, a recent Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2014-2019 white paper found that mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all internet traffic. With the increase in smartphone penetration, the white paper estimates that, by 2019, three-quarters of total mobile data traffic will be via smartphones.

Within this context of skyrocketing smartphone adoption and usage, savvy digital marketers are fixing their sites on the mobile internet and how to improve the user experience on mobile devices, which is why responsive design has become “must-have” and no longer a “luxury.”

Why Is Responsive Web Design a Must?

The modern consumer uses their mobile device for so much more than emailing and reading news.

As mobile commerce adoption reaches a tipping point, more and more mobile users are relying on their devices for a whole range of commercial activities, like online banking and online shopping. In 2016, if your website is difficult to read or functions poorly on a mobile device, you’re most likely losing potential sales.

Responsive web design is a first critical step towards mobile optimization. If you want your site to be mobile-friendly, it should be built on a platform that adapts (or responds) to the different parameters of every device, altering the layout of the website as necessary.

When you have responsive web design, no matter what device is used to visit your site, the browsing experience runs smoothly for all users. And once you correct the design flaws that compromise mobile user experience on your site, you’ll start to capture new audiences, increase sales, and generate more leads.

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Still wondering how responsive design will help you stay one step ahead of the mobile marketing curve? Here are some specific answers…

#1: Save Time & Money with Responsive Design

It’s possible to create a stand-alone mobile version of your website, but the process is costly and time-consuming.

Before a mobile site goes live, you need to conduct all the same tests for web development, maintenance, and support that your original site required, which means double the trouble, work, and/or cost, depending on how you want to look at it. By contrast, developers using responsive design only need to test and coordinate the layout and content of a single website.

#2: Stay Afloat in Search Results with Responsive Design

From an SEO point of view, responsive web design is invaluable. Mobile internet use has become such a significant component of total internet use that Google now boosts the mobile search rankings of websites that are mobile-friendly. This means, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can expect to start slipping in search results (if you haven’t already).

Googlebot and other search engine bots prefer the neat and simple page hierarchy that is unique to the unified code base of responsive web design. When you have separate mobile and desktop versions of your site, you’re effectively clogging up the search engines with duplicate content, and those bots don’t like content repetition.

#3: Decrease Page Load Times

With mobile on the rise, responsive web design makes it easier and faster for people to access and use your site. The PageSpeed Developers at Google have even laid down guidelines that effectively make responsive web design more a necessity than an option.

They stipulate that the upper fold of your site’s content should load within 1 second, while the full page shouldn’t take more than 2 seconds to load. Unlike slow-loading websites with a desktop version, responsive sites load swiftly, allowing visitors to quickly access your content. This, in turn, improves the user experience for your visitors and causes Google to love your site more.

#4: Minimize Bounce Rates with Responsive Design

It’s important to have great content on your website, but what’s the use in having compelling content when it can’t be comfortably viewed on a mobile device screen? Have you ever landed on a website that isn’t optimized for mobile and struggled to read content and understand the functionality? You probably didn’t stick around for long trying to make sense of the site, did you?

When user experience is compromised by clunky, mobile-unfriendly design, people don’t persevere—they bounce and take their business elsewhere. Search giant Google claims that more than 60 per cent of mobile users will go to a competitor’s site if they find your website non-responsive. So responsive web design cuts your bounce rates by keeping visitors engaged.

#5: Boost Conversions with Responsive Design

A responsive web design doesn’t just make visitors less likely to leave your site, it also makes them more likely to spend. There’s a direct correlation between responsive web design and conversions. According to a study by Aberdeen Group, websites with responsive design enjoyed an 11% increase in visitor-to-buyer conversion rates year-over-year. For non-responsive sites, the increase was less than 3%.

Why are people spending more on responsive sites? It’s simple, really. The improved user experience and enhanced functionality of responsive sites make it easier for people to make purchase decisions and place an order on your site which naturally increases conversion rates and revenue.

#6: Give Users the Speed They Need With AMP

Google recently released the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, a new HTML subset that speeds things up on the mobile web. AMP is an open source initiative that moves us towards a digital world where publishers create mobile-optimized content and it loads instantly, on every device or platform.

The main objectives of AMP are to distribute content more easily and to improve user experience for people accessing content on mobile devices. In its current format, AMP enhances responsive design by ramping up mobile reading experiences. And if you want to take advantage of AMP, then your site needs to be mobile optimized.

#7: Get a Clear Picture with Responsive Design

Responsive web design ensures that visitors can enjoy and interact with the compelling visual components of your website because when you develop a responsive layout for your website, images are optimized for each layout. This eliminates bandwidth issues and scaling (scaling creates problems with color depth and resolution).

The ideal file formats to use are JPEG, GIF and PNG-8, but you want to steer clear of PNG format because it can bloat your image sizes by up to ten times. Using exact image measurements and dimensions prevents scaling issues and helps to preserve the quality of your images.

#8: Tantalize Users with Crisp Responsive Typography

Clean, clear typography makes your content accessible, pleasant, and easy to digest.

With responsive typography, readability is ensured across all manner of devices, and your best bet is to keep the HTML font size at 100% because most browser or device manufacturers set a fairly readable default for their product or platform.

On most desktop browsers, the default is 16px, but some devices have much higher browser defaults. You may also want to consider setting minimum font sizes for certain content elements, such as headings, and article bylines. For easy reading, you should also factor in a decent reading line length with the ideal range being between 45 and 65 characters.

The Final Word

The final word on mobile responsive design is that it’s here to stay.

Mobile devices aren’t going away anytime soon which means your site needs to be optimized for viewing on all different types of devices. And by doing so, you’ll experience the following benefits which we’ve already discussed:

  1. Less work (and cost) to build and maintain your site
  2. More SEO traffic
  3. Faster site load times
  4. Lower bounce rates
  5. Increased conversion rates
  6. Faster content delivery
  7. A better looking site across different devices
  8. Improved typography and readbility across devices.

If you haven’t optimized your site to be mobile responsive, now is definitely the time to do it. Feel free to leave a comment if you have a question about how to make your site mobile responsive, otherwise, good luck!

About the Author

Nital Shah HeadshotNital is the founding director at Octos with more than 8+ years of experience in the field and with a profound level of expertise in search strategies, planning, and management. He’s served big corporate brands in Australia, and Octos was the winner of the All Star Summit of 2015. You can reach Nital on Twitter at  @octosau.