As mobile technology becomes a major part of our daily lives and with the introduction of even faster mobile networks such as EE, the need for consumers and web visitors to view websites via mobile phones and tablet PC’s is now a fundamental necessity. Whilst you can view websites on mobile devices the overall theme or layout may not change if the design is not responsive and users may find it frustrating to navigate and search for information. A responsive web design physically alters the layout of web pages to fit comfortably within the width of the web or mobile browser. With this in mind, web designers and developers can provide different layouts for several devices allowing for improved navigation, call to action and user experience.
So why not have a dedicated mobile website?
Responsive web design is not to be confused with a dedicated mobile website. Hosted on a sub domain such as m.domainname.co.uk, a dedicated mobile site involves building a separate website specifically for mobile use and means extra cost to the client, additional work for developers and clients find themselves having to manage two separate websites. This does not necessarily negate the need for having a dedicated mobile website, some organisations may have different marketing strategies or offer up a unique product or service for mobile users.
What is the impact on analytics?
If you are using analytics to measure the performance and conversions of your website, moving to a responsive design can have implications on these statistics. For example, call to action and forms may not appear in the same place so it is important to test how your site appears on various devices and how this impacts your website traffic. At this stage you may need to consider the three basic types of responsive design which are, fluid grid, adaptive and responsive, depending on which you use the impact on your analytics could vary.
Is there a benefit to SEO?
Yes there is, think of it this way. You have a business called mybusiness.co.uk, you create a website for smartphones called touch.mybusiness.co.uk then another for a tablet called tablet.mybusiness.co.uk – the problem here is that the links on all three of these sites for social and blogs for example are effectively shared, the desktop version may be very strong in SEO but the mobile versions almost certainly wont rank well in search engines. Therefore having one URL and a responsive design means that all your links point to the same place and therefore improve your SEO.
With screen resolutions ranging from as little as 320px and reaching upto 2560px responsive web design is made up of a number of features that allow websites to cope this variation. By combining fluid grids, media queries and flexible images, websites can now gracefully adapt to the environment they find themselves in.
According to stats published on Google’s ‘Our Mobile Planet’ 59% of smartphone users access the mobile internet everyday, furthermore it goes on to say that YouTube traffic via mobiles tripled in 2011 and 85% of these users are searching for local information and taking action based on local content. With these figures alone it is easy to see why responsive web design is such a buzz and why it is so vital for any business.
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