Who Is That Disruptor?
By Anna Meacham
If your company has a website, chances are that someone has visited it on a mobile or handheld device. And if they visited a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, chances are that their visit was detrimental to your brand and company image.
It seems drastic, but mobile-friendly, or responsive, websites are becoming an absolute necessity for companies who hope to make and retain customers. Mobile usage is increasing steadily with so much of online shopping, internet surfing, email checking, and most of social media browsing happening on smart phones and tablets. According to Google, creating a user-friendly mobile site is “a critical component of…nurturing lasting customer relationships” seeing as “48% of mobile users said that if a site didn't work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn't care about their business”.
Not only are responsive sites an important part of customer relationships, they can help your company in many other ways such as boosting your SEO rankings, creating more business, saving yourself time and energy, creating a better user experience, and putting you ahead of your competitors.
What is a Responsive Site?
A responsive site is designed in a way that allows its structure, content, and images to remain the same on any device. So, if you look at a website on a desktop you will see the full version, whereas if you view it on a mobile device it will have retracted to fit the screen. Both will have the same information, but will appropriately fill the screen, no matter the size.
According to Smart Insights’ “Mobile Marketing Statistics 2015” (www.smartinsights.com), over fifty percent of consumers are “multiscreening”, or accessing sites on both their mobile devices and on their desktops. This means it’s important for these consumers to have consistent experiences across devices. If they visit a beautifully built desktop site, they will expect an equally good mobile site (and could get frustrated if this isn’t the case).
Not only do you need to think about a consistent experience across personal devices, but consider this bit of information from Renee Groskreutz (www.dfwwebsitedesigners.com/):
There are now walls in malls that are being turned into screens for people to search websites. Consider what I am saying here—it is not a wall of small TV’s, but rather a single wall that they expect a single website to fill. (emphasis added)
A responsive site will fit any screen and could affect how a customer views your company. Besides the customer experience, there are other important reasons to convert your site to a responsive one.
If I said nothing more than “Google recommends it”, you would be safe to go ahead and create a responsive site. The unofficial King of the Internet, Google had 64 percent of the market share in April 2015 according to comScore. (www.comscore.com). But these two reasons, based on consumer data, explain why Google wants companies to create responsive sites: they boost SEO and they’re easier for the Googlebots to crawl.
If you want to boost your SEO, having one URL for website instead of two is the first place to start. Having the same URL will make it easier for your site to be shared across different devices. If someone shared your desktop website URL with someone who opened it on a mobile device, they could get frustrated with trying to navigate the large format on such a small screen. This frustration could lead to them unhappily exiting the site and never coming back. According to John Rampton in an article on Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com), it could lead to these consequences:
…unhappy people will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank on mobile searches. This creates a whole big headache involving Google's external link algorithm and on-page errors. Which in turn, also harms your SEO.
It may seem odd that Google cares about your business’ SEO, but it will aid the success of their algorithms. If you want your website to show up in Google searches and you want people to keep people coming back for more, responsive is the way to go.
But that’s not the only reason you should go responsive. Just like in the case of the URL, it’s important to have the same HTML, or coding, for each site rather than two sets of different HTML. If you run two separate sites, a desktop site and a mobile site, each will have similar yet different HTML, and the Googlebots will have to search and index two sets of almost identical information. Google doesn’t want to spend the time crawling two sites and doesn’t want to store the extra information. But more importantly for you, you don’t want to create and maintain two different sets of HTML.
Past the Mobile Tipping Point
In 2014 mobile device usage overtook desktop usage (www.smartinsights.com). Responsive sites are necessary if companies don’t want to put off their mobile customers. In this info graphic from Visually (https://visual.ly/why-responsive-design-important-10-key-statistics), we are informed that 85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than their desktop website.We’re also told that a whopping 90% of people use their devices sequentially, meaning that they might access a website on their mobile device or tablet before switching to their desktop screen to complete an interaction with a company. If a customer doesn’t have a good mobile experience, they might never make the switch to desktop to complete the transaction, or vice versa.
What’s the point of sharing content on social media if it’s not compatible on a mobile device? Social networking yields 70% of social media consumption on mobile devices according to another study from comScore (www.comscore.com). If a desktop user shares a URL that leads a mobile user to a desktop website, it could create yet another bad experience for your mostly-mobile customer base.
No one wants to struggle to scroll through and resize a website while viewing it on their mobile device. It might sound like a first-world problem, but the consequences of an inconvenient site are far reaching according to these numbers from Google:
- 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that's not mobile-friendly
- 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company
- 36% said they felt like they've wasted their time by visiting those sites
Likewise, if a customer struggles to navigate your website they might also struggle to find a way to contact you directly and vent their frustrations. Often the next place they turn to complain is *gasp* social media! Rather than having to do damage control in a very public forum, make sure your website is user-friendly and that your listening ear is readily accessible.
Save and Make
As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to have to pay to develop separate SEO campaigns for different sites. Although it will take extra work and a skilled developer to create a responsive site, your company will only have to pay for one site instead of two.
A responsive site could also give you an advantage over your competitors. Web users are picky, so if they don’t like your site they will quickly leave to find one that they do. Take a look at some more numbers from Google:
- 61% of users said that if they didn't find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they'd quickly move on to another site
- 79% of people who don't like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
- 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly
These are some of the most severe statistics we’ve seen yet. Imagine a customer arriving at your site but then immediately leaving to go to your competitor’s site. It puts a pit in your stomach, not to mention a dent in your wallet. Prevent this from happening before you lose the faith of valuable customers.
So what’s the moral of the story here? It goes back to the Golden Rule of business success: The Customer is Always Right. If the customer wants to view a beautiful website on their phone, you had better make your site beautiful. If the customer wants easy access to what they’re trying to find, you had better make it accessible. If customers want to have a consistent website experience across all their devices, you should probably give up and watch them run to your competitors. Kidding! You had better give them a great experience!
The importance of responsive sites can’t be stated enough. It affects your SEO rankings, your image, and your customer relationships to name a few. If you don’t know where to start, check out this resource from Google on how to switch over to a responsive site: www.google.com.