A website that is built with a responsive design will change its appearance and layout depending on the size of the viewer’s screen. On a tablet or smartphone, this means text on the page gets larger, buttons are bigger (and therefore easier to press), and images are resized to be more visible. For visitors who don’t surf the web on these smaller devices, it may seem crazy to go to the expense of coding for a two-inch screen but given the trajectory of mobile device search, it’s well worth considering.
In the past, businesses that wanted a mobile-optimized site had to build a separate, mobile version of their website. This often meant that content was different between the two versions. You might have even noticed this in your own internet surfing.
Technology, being the ever-changing beast that it is, has risen to this challenge and it is now possible to code a website to be responsive. This means one website and of course, the same content.
How can I find out if my site is responsive?
Here’s a simple test: on a desktop or laptop, resize your browser window and make it much smaller. If you have to scroll horizontally to read your content, you don’t have a responsive site. If your content and images reformat themselves and are completely visible even when your browser window is only a couple of inches wide, your website is responsive.
Is it worth the cost of upgrading to a responsive site?
When you consider that mobile internet usage is predicted to take over desktop internet usage by 2014, the answer is “yes.” The statistics from Digby.com below might also help you make the decision to accommodate mobile.
Does this affect my rank?
Indirectly, yes. When a web page is given a particular page rank by search engines, that is based in part on the length of time visitors stay on your site. The longer they stay, the better they like your site. If your site doesn’t render well on mobile, your ever-sophisticated visitors are going to leave. They may return when they are at a desktop or laptop and not going to be frustrated by zooming in, using buttons that were intended for a mouse and scrolling left/right to read content. But don’t count on it.
Here are some stats on mobile usage from Digby.com:
- 56% of American adults own a smartphone
- 75% of Americans take their phones to the bathroom
- 12% of the time Americans spend on the media… is on mobile
- 25% of consumers engage in online shopping only on their mobile device
- Mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016
Look at these responsive and non-responsive sites on mobile:
Gone are the days when coders just had to build a website that would look right across 6 different browsers. Now it is also important to build websites that look and function well in multiple devices. This means designs with more “breathing” space, larger buttons for big fingers, and my personal favorite – clean code.