It’s probably no surprise by now that mobile internet usage has been skyrocketing over the last few years. According to a Morgan Stanley report, mobile internet usage is expected to match desktop usage by 2014. Even with this compelling evidence, the vast majority of business websites are still not mobile-friendly. This is not only causing a headache for users, but also a loss in business opportunity.
What’s the difference between mobile and responsive design?
There are two major methods for creating mobile websites: responsive design and mobile templates.
Responsive design requires you only have one website that is coded to adapt to all screen sizes, no matter what the device the website's being displayed on.
In contrast, a mobile template is a completely separate entity requiring you to have a second, mobile-only website or subdomain. Mobile templates are also built for each specific site, not per screen size. This can cause some issues, as we will discuss below.
Responsive design, a term originally coined in a 2010 A List Apart article by Ethan Marcotte, has been by far the most popular and widely used method for designing a mobile website.
Here are some of the undeniable reasons your website needs to be responsive.
1) Mobile usage is exploding.
This might not be a surprise for most of you, yet despite the impressive statistics below, many businesses do not yet have a mobile website. Hopefully, reading through these stats from Smart Insights will light a fire to stop ignoring the need for a mobile website.
Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device.
In 2012, more than half of local searches were performed on a mobile device.
In the United States, 25% of internet users only access the internet on a mobile device.
61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
25.85% of all emails are opened on mobile phones, and 10.16% are opened on tablets.
2) Positive user experience is a must.
According to Google’s Think Insights on mobile, if a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor). It’s also said that if they have a positive experience with your mobile website, a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.
3) Blogging and social activities bring mobile visitors.
If you’re like most inbound marketers and have elements of blogging and social media incorporated in your strategy, you probably have been seeing increased mobile traffic. A recent study by ComScore cites that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device.
With that being said, if you're sharing out content links or links to your website and don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re not only going to experience high bounce rates and low conversion rates, but also a frustrated audience.
4) Responsive design is preferred for SEO.
In June 2012, at SMX Advanced, Google’s Pierre Farr went on the record to declare that Google prefers responsive web design over mobile templates. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to crawl your site as well as reduces the chance of on-page SEO errors. For these reasons, responsive sites typically perform better and are easier to maintain than a separate, mobile-template site.
5) A speedy responsive website is key.
According to the Google PageSpeed Developers, standards recommends that the content above the fold on a mobile device loads in under 1 second and the entire page loads in under 2 seconds. This is typically not possible when loading a desktop website on a mobile device. When a user has to wait too long for a page to load, there’s an extremely high chance they will leave your site.
One of the big benefits of responsive design is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size, not device. This means that no matter what size screen someone is viewing your website, it will display properly for that screen size.
So, in the future, as new devices (TVs, watches, glasses, etc.) are being used for web browsing, your responsive site will still look beautiful.
Moving forward, it will be extremely critical that your website provides mobile users an easy-to-use experience. Having a mobile website is no longer simply a nice feature -- rather, it is now a necessity and literally impacts the growth of your business.
Are you curious the possible return having a mobile website might have? I’d suggest checking out is this “Full Value of Mobile” calculator by Google. Here, you can input different variables about your business and marketing, and it will give you a full rundown of how your metrics can be increased with proper mobile design.
What do you think about responsive design? Is it something you've already implemented or are you planning to do so soon? Share your thoughts below!
The resident Director of Inbound Marketing at Savvy Panda, Luke Summerfield and his team develop web and marketing success stories for medium to fortune 100 companies and nonprofits. Luke is also the head instructor of Master Inbound, a comprehensive online Inbound Marketing training course.
Originally published Jan 3, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated August 27 2017