With more and more people relying on smartphones to search the net, the mobile-friendly quality of your net presence makes a vital statement.
What message do professionals deliver when their website or blog is not mobile-friendly?
Google-recommended Responsive Web Design is the most common method of achieving mobile-friendly web pages configured to look great on small smartphone screens and on those of other mobile devices. Responsive uses computer code that responds differently to different screen sizes, but ensures page displays remain similar and readable on any mobile device.
Sticking with a non mobile-friendly site undermines your message, value, and connection to your target users.
Can you expect target users to trust that you are net-savvy enough to successfully tap the power of the internet for targets when your own net presence is stuck in the unresponsive “desktop dark ages?”
Smartphone internet use and mobile computing continue to dominate, so mobile-friendly design is essential. In April 2015, Google announced search changes that favor mobile devices. With this and subsequent edicts, responsive shifted from a target-driven alternative to a business essential.
The internet is increasingly defined by the rising mass of mobile computing devices. Mobile phones have replaced desktop and laptop computers on many levels. Websites and blogs that are not mobile-friendly are increasingly ignored unless they have unique, highly-valued content.
Websites designed and coded for larger screens do not automatically make a graceful transition to small screens.
Your beautiful desktop-designed non-responsive website can look hideous on a smartphone. Potential viewers must do so much pinching, scrolling, zooming, and squinting, they may give up and click on a competitor’s mobile-friendly website.
If you’re not sure if your website or blog (or the competition’s) is responsive, visit it on your smartphone or use Google’s handy Mobile-Friendly Test.
If the design is not responsive, a jumbled mess will appear on a phone screen. The responsive website page will remain readable on the full range of screen sizes.
The transition to responsive involves more that recoding.
Multi-column websites and blogs, originally designed for big desktop screens, will require an overhaul. For instance, a signup form prominently positioned at the top of the right-hand column may end up at the very end of the first column so few may see it and sign up.
- Changes in content, layout, and overall design may be necessary for the best internet presence.
- Simplification and content re-positioning may be required to maintain desired objectives.
The time, expertise, and expense involved in transition to responsive may be daunting for some site owners.
Here are strategies to consider:
- Prioritize: Traffic, lead generation, and e-commerce are among the key reasons for investing time and money to go responsive. For example, suppose you have a blog and a website, and your blog draws significantly more target traffic. Start with the blog and overhaul the website later. Expanding the blog and phasing out the website may be another alternative.
- Allocation of time and resources: Create an efficient sequence for continuous updating and modernizing. Responsive design may be the latest overhaul, but it will not be the last that technology and Google dictate.
- Analyze Don’t Just Assume: Switching to mobile-friendly may not instantly create dramatic shifts in traffic or usage statistics since so many factors are involved. Reduced bounce rates may indicate phone users find it easier to stay and read, but relevant marketing and promotion are necessary to generate a flood of new business. Determine what your selected target markets expect from your online presence before you plunge into expensive, time-consuming redesign.
- Relevant Content Rules: If content is not top-notch and video excellent, mobile-friendly design alone will not be enough to increase traffic and usage.
If you present yourself as a tech-savvy professional or a social-media natural intent on engaging target prospects and clients on their terms, transforming your website and blog into mobile-friendly territory is essential.
Take time to decide which redesign strategy is compatible with your short- and long-term goals:
- Nowhere Fast: Those who find little or no business comes to them over the internet may decide there is no need to redesign. (There may be a very good business case for going responsive and optimizing the site to gain traffic, leads, and referrals, but that’s another article, for another time.)
- Halfway There: Blogs are not automatically responsive. For instance, popular WordPress(WP) accounts for almost 25% of internet activity and powers many blogs. Earlier WP blog templates or themes were not responsive. Even now, new bloggers do not have to choose responsive themes. Transforming non-responsive WordPress blogs and websites may involve switching to a responsive theme.
- All the Way: The process of transforming a website to responsive is not as simple as switching templates. Coding changes are just the beginning. Design—including layout, fonts, images, and site navigation—will need modification to optimize smaller reading “windows.” Although going responsive may be an opportune time for a full-site overhaul of content, navigation, SEO, and all related marketing elements, a phased-in re-do or scaled-down site are other alternatives. In some cases, recreating the site as a responsive WP site may be faster and less expensive. Google suggests other ways to optimize for mobile search.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Responsive design is one element in SEO which concentrates on continuous improvement of the site’s online presence. What is your SEO strategy?
If the website or blog drives your business, delaying the move to mobile-friendly may be expensive.
In this blog, we’ve been talking about communicating your value and intentions using technology. “Responsive” means much more. In both the technical and relationship sense of the word, how you manage interfaces like websites—between what you offer and what target prospects and clients value and need—is a measure of your relevance and responsiveness to them.
Target Test: Ask mobile-addicted prospects and clients what they think of your website or blog. If you hear complaints about what a pain it is, the site is non-responsive or very badly designed.
“No complaints” may be worse since it may mean users have bounced off to visit competitors.
Revised from article “Are You Responsive?” first published May 2016 on RealtyTimes.com