Go to content
The phrase ‘mobile traffic is on the up’ is old news. Mobile traffic now competes with desktop usage and this should not come as a surprise to any of us. We need to change our attitude towards responsive design; it’s now the default way many of us browse the web.
Screenshots of mobile-friendly (left) and slow (right) websites identified by Google

A mobile website used to be something of a novelty, a way to placate customers using mobile devices to browse. Mobile is here to stay and is likely responsible for more than half of your revenue, it demands to be taken seriously. Or else.

The basics

So you have a mobile website, is that not enough? In many ways yes, you’ve delivered your customers with a version of your website that is easier for viewing on a mobile device, tick that off the list. However, these trimmed down versions of your website can confuse visitors by not containing the same layout as your desktop website, they are also not as effective SEO-wise. Read on for the clever explain-ey bits.

Why is responsive so important?

For this to make sense we need to look at how the market has changed. 25% of humans ONLY browse the Internet via a mobile device. This means they will never see your beautiful desktop website. Customers will either see a scrunched up version of your desktop site on a weeny mobile screen or, they will use your mobile site, which you had made as an afterthought and does not contain all the functionality of its parent desktop version.

According to Google’s Think Insights, if a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated, there is a 61% chance that they will leave, and most likely convert elsewhere. Encouraging positive user experience is a must, and is particularly important as if a customer has a good user experience they are 67% more likely to convert.

So what’s the difference between a mobile, desktop and responsive website?

Your desktop website is built with a static grid, the content will not adjust with screen size, the whole website will look smaller on mobile devices, and there will be a lot of scrolling and zooming. This is a poor customer experience and can be frustrating to use.

A mobile website will have been created as a separate URL. Often created as stripped down versions of the original parent site, some mobile friendly sites are confusing and don’t contain all of the features and usability that drew customers to that website in the first place.

A responsive website is built with a fluid, proportion-based layout. Images are flexible and uses CSS3 media queries. This allows content to adapt to different conditions (e.g. smartphone vs computer screen). This means your website will be able to adapt to any current or future device, while only using one URL.

SEO implications

Responsive websites are better for SEO, and here’s why: if you have a mobile site, this means you have two separate versions of your website, which is not an issue in terms of duplicate content Google’s Skip Redirect/Old Possum update took care of that in December 2011. However the existence of two URLs does pose a problem in that having two company websites makes it harder for Google’s spiders to crawl.

As of April 21st 2015, Google will begin ranking websites according to their mobile usability. If a website isn’t mobile friendly, i.e. that it contains errors that are likely to cause issues on a mobile device, it will be ranked lower in Google’s search rankings.

To clarify this, it is not as simple as: mobile/responsive website good vs desktop website bad. Google will start taking into account factors which will make a website more mobile friendly. An example of this is site speed. To have a look at your sites speed there are some great tools available including this one from Pingdom.

If all that didn’t persuade you, how about some figury numbery stuff?

  • 25% of internet users access the internet only through a mobile device
  • 56% of US adults are smartphone users
  • 81% of adults aged 25-34 have smartphones
  • 55% of US adults 55+ own a smartphone
  • 74% of mobile users utilise a search engine during the purchase process
  • 83% of users intend to make a purchase within a day
  • almost 50% of traffic comes from mobile users
  • most weekday tablet usage occurs between 8pm and 9pm
  • PCs dominate working hours and
  • mobiles brighten the commute