Mobile Friendly, Responsive Web Design

How important is responsive Web Design?

I’m curious  to  know on which device are you the reader viewing this on, is it a laptop, a desktop at work , perhaps you are sitting on a bus viewing this from a smart phone or in your garden relaxing surfing  web the using a tablet.  This article will examine how important having a responsive web design is in today’s world.

According to (Viswanathan 2014) “Responsive Web Design or RWD as it is commonly referred to implies the formatting of Website design in a way that is most optimal for viewing and navigation across a wide range of devices, including traditional PCs, smartphones and tablet devices”. In other words, a RWD allows the website to be resized and reformatted to fit a wide range of devices, without the viewer having to resize or scroll across the screen. So how important is a RWD in today’s world.  We will first examine the use of devices used to access the internet.

When we examine the number of devices on the market on which we can access the internet it fails to surprise us that internet usage amongst  the British population has reached an all-time high according to the office of national statistics1 (2014), 84% of all households now have internet access. According to similar research conducted by Communications Regulator Ofcom (2014) people are spending less and less time surfing the web using conventional methods, such as desktops and laptops.  The report finds that due to the massive shift in consumer behaviour the internet has gone from being stationary to mobile.  Now over 4 in 10 households (44%) own a tablet – up from a quarter (24%) a year ago.

The same report also found smartphone usage has increased to 61% of adults now owing a smartphone up from 51% a year earlier. On the other hand the use of laptops and PCs seem to be on the decline with laptop usage almost on par with smartphones with 63% of households owning a laptop and only 35% having access to desktops down 9% from 2013. The report also finds a generational gap between age groups, with today’s youth and young adults being most tech savvy while the older generations seem to lag behind.  However, all age groups are benefiting from new technology and due to this shift in consumer behaviour according to Google now over 50% of web searches are carried out on some type of mobile device.

As a direct result of the heavy increase in mobile searches, Google announced last year that from the April 21st 2015 they would start to boost the rankings of mobile friendly websites, while sites which are not responsive will have their rank declined in the Google search results on mobile devices. This seems to be a clear indication that Google want to improve consumer experience while surfing the web on mobile devices.  The only way Google could have achieved this to positively discriminate mobile friendly sites to force companies to adapt a responsive website design.

 This change will leave some companies with an advantage as they already possess a responsive design which will lead them to increase their Google rankings, and as a direct result have increased exposure and sales due to an increased mobile presence. While other companies have suffered with their Google rankings tumbling leaving them with a diminished mobile presence leading to falling exposure and sales.

So it seems imperative in today’s world for all businesses no matter how big or small, product based or service based companies to invest in a responsive web design, not only due to the increased use of mobile devices amongst the British populous and Googles positive discrimination, which should be enough by them self, but because people seem to forget that their website is an online shop it represents the company and its image. When you enter a shop you may be turned off if it looks dated and tacky, this is exactly the same for customers buying online. Unresponsive websites on average seem too complicated with too much text and too many images, responsive websites on the other hand are simple, clean and present the customer with only the information they require which leads to aesthetically pleasing web design.

Whatever type of business you operate mobile devices are increasingly becoming a preferred instrument for work, communication and buying. Some organisations may continue to view mobile devices as an add on to supplement their marketing but the truth is mobile devices are here to stay, their use is increasing day by day and the only way to survive is to adapt and companies that embrace the change and position them self to take advantage of this change by quickly adapting mobile friendlily web design will be the real winners.

References

Google. (2015). Rolling out the mobile-friendly update. Available: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/rolling-out-mobile-friendly-update.html. Last accessed 27/04/2015.

Ofcom. (2014). The Communications Market Report: United Kingdom.Available: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr14/uk/. Last accessed 27/04/2015.

Office for National Statistics . (201r4). Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2014. Available: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2014/stb-ia-2014.html

Priya Viswanathan . (2014). Responsive Web Design for Mobile: An Introduction. Available: http://mobiledevices.about.com/od/additionalresources/a/Responsive-Web-Design-For-Mobile-An-Introduction.htm. Last accessed 27/04/2015.