Have you ever looked around a room and noticed people on their smart phones, staring at the screen intently, zooming, panning with their fingers, scrolling up and down, squinting, clicking links and waiting for something to happen? It’s kind of funny to watch, actually!
Have YOU ever done that? I have. You locate the site that you are looking for, but then you need to zoom in, pan around in frustration, and further search for the information you wanted, but nothing loads correctly? Have you ever just given up out of frustration and moved on to another site?
A Compuware 2011 survey showed that:
• Close to 50% of all mobile device users will not come back to a website that they had issues accessing
• 30% will navigate to a competing website rather than continue in frustration
• 57% will not recommend the website to other people
It is no surprise that usability is critical when it comes to the Internet, especially when you consider the rapid growth in mobile device users. Optimize the user experience for this growing population, and you will create a very powerful competitive advantage for your business.
There is an emerging technique called responsive design, which offers several additional benefits.
One size, many devices
Responsive design is an approach that allows your company website to display the layout that is best suited for the device the end user is viewing on. Tablet users get a design optimized for tablets. Desktop users get a desktop layout. Smartphone users get a smartphone version. The key to responsive design is that ALL visitors to the website use the same URL with the same content – it is simply presented in the most user optimized manner for any device, dramatically improving the user experience.
Over the last several years, the most common practice has been to create a separate site version for mobile, with a different URL. So, as an example, if the primary URL is www.example.com, the mobile version would be m.example.com. The mobile traffic is automatically redirected to the “m”obile version.
One site vs. many sites
The previously mentioned “many” site approach to dealing with mobile devices works, but has serious drawbacks. The biggest drawback is that if you change content for one, you’ll have to change for all. And that is time consuming and leaves great possibility for errors. Loading speed can also be an issue when there is a redirect. And having separate sites can have an adverse effect on your SEO efforts.
In contrast, a “one size fits all” responsive approach is much more SEO friendly since the search engines only need to index one site, and loads much more quickly due to the lack of site redirects.
While a responsive website design can eliminate the need for multiple sites, it also can be complex to build from scratch. But regardless, you only have to build one site vs. several versions.
And the bottom line: Your users now demand a more user friendly mobile experience, and Google has also designated that responsive design is the “recommended configuration” for all mobile site optimization. So, when it comes to website design issues, it is always a great idea to listen to what your customers need and what Google tells you!