Remember when the majority of businesses did not have websites? Or, when businesses built websites simply to have a web presence, but with little to no functionality to enable e-commerce and online lead generation? Now, most businesses have websites that are fully functional and enable consumers to buy their products without ever having to enter their brick and mortar locations.
Until a few years ago, a fully functional site that users could access from desktops and laptops put your business in a great position to capture the consumer's shift to online shopping. However, with the rise of the iPhone, iPads, Android devices and other mobile methods of accessing the web, it's time to re-assess your website to make sure it is well-positioned to capture this shift to mobile web surfing. And, while your existing site is capable of rendering on mobile devices (except for Flash sites on Apple devices), it will appear exactly as it does on desktops. Due to the smaller size of the screens, this does not always represent the best user experience.
So, how do you make sure that you present the most user-friendly version of your site to visitors regardless of how they attempt to access it? Upgrade your site to utilize responsive web design! Responsive web design is a design approach that focuses on providing the best viewing and engagement experience across many different types of devices. The sitesare built to be flexible and adjust site presentation based on the device where it will be served. This happens programmatically and does not require any actions from the user.
While this design approach has been around for several years, it has risen in prominence due to a significant changes in mobile behavior. During the beginning of 2014, mobile time spent on the Internet surpassed desktop usage. Users chose mobile access over to perform a variety of activities, including:
- Accessing content
- Accessing the Internet
- Checking email
- Playing games
- Making purchases
Another significant change that has driven greater mobile adoption? The rise of social media. Most social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are accessed primarily via mobile devices. Some platforms, such as Instagram, were built only for mobile access. Even LinkedIn, the professional social media network, was approaching a mobile majority (47% of all visits), by the end of 2014. This is important because social media is all about sharing - links, photos, videos. Are you losing opportunities to engage with new audiences because your site does not render effectively for traffic driven to it from these platforms?
And, the most significant change of all? Mobile search volume officially surpassed desktop search volume during the early part of this year. That means that the people who are actively searching for sites to meet their needs - from shopping to research - are turning first to their mobile devices. All of these changes confirm what the industry has been predicting for the last few years - Internet users are officially mobile first. Google has taken the lead in adjusting to this behavioral change with the rollout of Mobilegeddon, an update to its algorithm that penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly. Overnight, businesses that ranked well in desktop search lost rankings on mobile devices because their sites were not mobile-friendly.
Rather than looking at the Google updates as the end of the changes to support a mobile first approach, consider it the beginning of a shift in priority for search engines, social media and other technologies engaged in helping users access. Bing has signaled that it will make a similar mobile search update in the coming months.
If your site is not already built on a responsive design platform, it will become increasingly difficult to drive revenue from the web. Before you lose significant footing in the search results, consult a firm with experience crafting mobile first responsive web designs.