By Steve Riley February 16, 2015
Last week we tweeted about the shift in expectations amongst website users about the way sites should respond intelligently to the device they're using. Sites that do this well are called Responsive Websites — crafting the layout to provide for an optimal viewing experience, across a range of devices, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones, via tablet and laptop.We believe responsive websites are no longer ‘nice to have’ and should now be considered essential. Users expect more from a contemporary design. It may demand extra code for the developers and require more care to produce, but the statistics tell a compelling story. On our own site for the most recent month, 15% of traffic comes from mobile and tablet users. If we don’t cater well for these visitors we’re effectively turning away 1 in 7 potential clients. Nobody in their right mind would do that would they?But read on.
Looking at the Google Analytics we manage for our own clients, the figures are far more dramatic. For a fairly arbitrary selection of six clients, we see that between 28–65% of visitors are coming to the site from non-traditional (mobile or tablet) devices.The figures tend to be higher for our recruitment agency clients. Thinking about how people job hunt, they're more likely to be using their own connection in working hours than the corporate network.One recent recruiter shows an astounding 63% of visitors using mobiles, iPads and other tablets. The client wasn't sure they needed a responsive site, but a quick look at the figures demonstrated this was critical for them. This was a repeat client for us and we already knew their visitor demographic from the analytics, so this showed the absolute necessity for a responsive new site.
Google loves mobile
Do a search on your mobile (any search you like, we're not trying to rig the results).Notice how the first page of results shows ‘Mobile-friendly’ sites first? That alone, should be reason enough to use a responsive site for your business.The SEO benefits are massive.The user experience (UX) of a site is now a key ranking factor for Google, so if you're not giving careful thought for your users and their devices, you'll be down the rankings.
How do you know how well you're performing at the moment? Use a handy tool like responsinator to check what your current site looks like right now on different devices. Are you satisfied with the results?As the screen space available increases more of the home page can fit on the screen and the layout can make sensible choices about which elements to render and where.
Goodbye to 'above the fold'?
An interesting by product of the move towards mobile friendly sites is that vertical scrolling is no longer seen as the sin it once was. You still need to tickle people’s interest with rich, interesting content high up the screen, and guide them with prompts to drill-down to content further down the page. But the once overwhelming urge to get everything ‘above the fold’ simply isn't an issue.Users expect to scroll now, simple as that. Some sites have almost gone full circle and back to a very simple graphical, ‘landing area’ (not the same as the dreaded ‘CLICK TO ENTER’ landing page from the early days!). All the good stuff off the page is reached from the landing area, either from menus or in-page links.
We believe making a site responsive should be high on your list of requirements for any new site. Depending on your niche, it might be critical. Keep an eye on your analytics to see where existing traffic is coming from. The proportion coming from mobiles and tablets is only ever going to rise in our view.For another view Dave Bancroft compared the pros and cons of mobile vs responsive sites in an earlier post.