There is no doubt that responsive web design has become practically essential for building websites today. Almost everyone has a smart phone and maybe a tablet as well. A survey shows that 35% to 40% of visitors come from mobile devices. And guess how long an average American spends on mobile devices per day? At least two hours. We can say with certainty that mobile devices are a major source of any site's visitors. Now you want to build a website, should you be considering building a website with responsive web design? The answer is obviously, a big YES. Every site visit is important and users who land on sites that aren't mobile friendly tend to bounce pretty quickly.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Not that long ago, web designers and developers used to only deal with the desktop version of a site. Then there was a short period where people started developing two different versions of sites for both mobile devices and desktop. But this is not a maintainable solution and generally leads to an inconsistent design experience for the user. Finally everyone caught on and we started using media queries to determine the user's screen size and deliver the correct styles for that screen.
Now we have so many smart devices with different screen sizes ranging from 310px to 2560px or higher. Responsive web design (RWD) is what guarantees your websites' visitors will all have an optimal viewing experience on any device. Responsive web design is an approach to make websites accommodate to the user's environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. It means that the website changes its layout, navigation, font size, spacing, etc, to continue delivering the best experience. You can easily find out how responsive any site is by dragging the corner of your browser and making it smaller. If it's responsive, you'll see items shift and resize for optimal legibility and design as the browser gets smaller.
Why is Responsive Web Design so important?
1. User Experience
Did you know in terms of Google searches, almost half of the traffic in half a year comes entirely from mobile devices? This trend is steadily increasing as more and more people have access to smart phones. Imagine, a user goes to your site with every intention of buying your product, service, or getting in touch with you, but your website doesn't even show up correctly on their phone; it's a marketing catastrophe. You've just lost up to half of your customers because they can't (or don't want to) navigate your mobile unfriendly site.
In addition, 61% of internet users say they have a better opinion of brands when their website provides a good user experience on mobile devices, based on recent research.
2. SEO (Search Engine Optimized)
When visitors go to your website but quickly leave (bounce) for another site, Google makes note of it. Because Google wants to show the most helpful search results, a high bounce rate probably means the quality of your content is not the best- or in this case they can't properly view the content. If your website is not legible or easy-to-navigate on mobile devices, your visitors probably won't stick around for too long. This poorly affects your site's SEO and definitely has a signifcant impact on your site's rating.
3. Better ranking in mobile search
Since April 2015, Google changed their algorithm for their search engine to now include mobile-friendly usability and app indexing. Google not only ranks your website higher if your website is mobile-friendly, but also ranks you better in mobile researches. Although Google announced on their webmasters blog that they will be dropping “Mobile-friendly” label from search results for declutter its search results so you might not see it showing up now, it's still a very important part for your SEO ranking.
Now you might say, I already have a site! Why not just just build another website only for mobile version? Well you certainly could, but it might probably cost you almost the same amount of money and you will have to manage two websites and two URLs. The worst part is that this may be counted as duplicate content in Google's search algorithm and negatively impact your rating. In addition, you will split your traffic into two, directed to two different websites which is equally bad for SEO. So my advice is, make the smart and easy choice, go with a responsive design. Even if this means redesigning you're going to save more time and money than the alternative options.
Is Responsive Web Design really a good investment?
Absolutely. At this point it's not even a question, but we're continuously surprised from time to time by sites that still aren't responsive. How can you compete with your competitors when half of your potential clients cannot even see your site? Well that's actually pretty optimistic since they probably can't even find your site in the search results in the first place! Considering redesigning a website? Make sure it has responsive design and if your developer doesn't offer it, you may want to look for new help.