People these days are more mobile than ever before and the recent advancements in mobile technology are a huge contributor. Sure, smart phones have been around for a while but in the space of only 5 years the percentage of all global web pages served to mobile phones has increased from 16.2% to 52.2%. It does vary a bit from industry to industry but this means that for the average business, over 50 percent of your site visitors are viewing your site on a mobile device.
Can your website adapt to all of the different mobile resolutions? What about tablets? If it can’t then your visitor experience might be taking a hit – and they might be taking a hike. Contrary to logic, having a poor mobile experience won’t just affect your mobile visitors, it can negatively affect your desktop performance too and I will touch on that a bit below.
The search engines of today not only analyze and rank a website design based on criteria such as back links, keyword relevancy and influence, but also new factors such as speed, security and responsiveness. While today’s trends place more of a burden on developers and site owners, this constant pursuit of perfection arguably makes for a better visitor experience.
Google is the arch-nemesis of yesterday … it makes unilateral decisions regarding what it thinks should be adopted as a new standard and then implements measures that enforce this as a new reality. Is this wrong? Well, when you are leading the search industry with a 90% market share you do have some responsibility to lead in the right direction – and most people concede that search results and our overall online experience have seen some notable improvements with Google at the helm. So why all of this talk about Google and how does this relate to mobile-responsiveness?
One of Google’s most notable pursuits as of late has been to reward modern, mobile-responsive websites with better search rank. While this may seem as a gift to the owners of more current sites, those with more out-dated sites have felt the pressure to revamp and sometimes even rebuild their sites entirely in order to meet the new standards. This initiative began with Google rewarding more mobile-responsive websites with higher rank in mobile search results – meaning that a Google search query performed on a mobile device would yield results more favorable to mobile-centric sites while desktop search results would remain largely unaffected. This will not always be the case, however, with all of the best indicators pointing to a future with single data-set search engines and all search results ranked by their mobile usability.
Before we proceed any further it’s important to mention that while terms like mobile-responsive, mobile-friendly and mobile adaptive are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not identical.
- Mobile-friendly generally references the use of a single website that doesn’t necessarily change to accommodate mobile devices but is designed in such a way that it can be sufficiently usable on both mobile and desktop.
- Mobile-adaptive websites have multiple fixed layout designs. When the site loads it detects the available screen resolution and displays the layout most appropriate for that screen size.
- Finally, mobile-responsive websites respond to changes in the browser width by adjusting the design elements to best fit the available space. Most modern content management systems are mobile-responsive which usually allows for a more seamless visitor experience.
One of the most overlooked qualities of a mobile-responsive website is load time. The speed that a site loads is a usability indicator to search engines and they have also begun to reward sites for trimming the fat so to speak. With home broadband speeds taking off into the 10, 20 to 30 Mbps range, people have had the luxury of including larger and larger media into websites. Websites can now include beautiful, full width, high-resolution imagery, streaming video or audio tracks and the desktop experience has benefited dramatically as a result. Unfortunately the download speed of mobile devices has been largely restricted to that of cell carriers and until 5G is widely available it will lag substantially behind your local internet providers. Because of this, modern search engines have not only begun to reward mobile responsive design but also sites with favorable load times. As we mentioned above, rewards for some site owners constitutes penalties for others and if being penalized for not having a mobile-responsive website wasn’t enough, now you can add speed penalties on top of that.
Just when you think you’ve had enough fun with all of this, there is the real world affect that these deficiencies can have on your web presence. The reason Google and other engines have tried so hard to enforce these trends is because, well, a non-responsive website really does affect its usability and a slow site really does diminish the user experience. All ranking rewards and perceived penalties aside, if your website doesn’t present your content quickly and intuitively, your visitors will find one that will.
Contact Fusion Website Design of Metairie today. We’d love to hear from you.