With 91% of all Internet users predicted to browse the web via their mobile devices by 2017, catering to mobile audiences is no longer a question – as shouldn’t be the decision to invest in mobile technology. Businesses can respond to their audiences’ mobile needs in two ways: by creating a mobile version of their site or by investing in a responsive web design (RWD).
Mobile vs. Responsive
Mobile websites are smaller, lighter copies of their parent websites, specially designed for mobile devices. They are hosted on a sub-domain of your main domain (eg. m.yourdomain.com), which tends to impact your organic traffic and affect link equity. Since a mobile site is essentially a separate site, all updates and maintenance must be done separately for both your regular site and mobile site. Mobile sites exhibit better performance than their responsive counterpart because the server loads the optimized site directly into a device.
Responsive websites are developed to be viewed across all devices, whether a smartphone, smartTV, or smartwatch. Because each device has a different screen size, and there are a plethora of devices out there, design and development teams have to figure out how certain elements of a site look and interact on different devices. Responsive websites have a single HTML code containing viewing configuration for all devices. As such, RWDs depend on the computing power and bandwidth speed of a user’s device. This can affect performance, especially on older devices and slower broadband.
Why you should invest in a responsive web design
1. Enhanced user experience
Developing a responsive website is a tedious and time-consuming task requiring design and development teams to work closely together. However, with a great deal of testing and enhancing, the team can create a site that ensures positive user experience, is easy to navigate, and makes reading and browsing downright pleasant.
2. Boost conversion
According to a study by the International Data Group, 75% of B2B owners rely on mobile searches. In 2015 mobile commerce sales accounted for almost 30% of total US commerce. Responsive websites guarantee higher conversion rates simply because they can be viewed across multiple devices and have greater reach. Make sure your prospects can buy from you whenever and wherever they are.
3. Search engine rankings
Google’s ranking algorithm favors mobile-friendly sites. Also, responsive sites preserve canonical URLs compared to mobile sites, which prevents self-created duplicate content. With RWD there are no unnecessary redirects and web address sharing is simplified. All of which increases your site’s chances of landing on top of the first-page of search results.
4. Consistency in design and branding
Since responsive websites share their HTML code, the design is consistent on all devices. On mobile sites, however, each change in design must be introduced separately. This greatly affects viewing experience, because if you don’t make the changes in design to your mobile site while changing, for example, colors or graphics on your desktop site, you lose the benefits that come from brand recognition.
5. Better analytics and tracking
Data analytics is invaluable when adjusting your marketing message and checking how your business is doing. Believe me, you don’t want to chase that precious data across domains. One domain in RWD ensures you have all the necessary data regarding consumer behavior, lead acquisition, bounce rate, exit rate etc. in one comfortable place for you to utilize it.
6. Cost saving in the long run
Alright, let’s be honest here, responsive websites aren’t cheap, and as I already mentioned, they are demanding in terms of design and development. But in the long run, especially when you consider the cost of updates (graphics, logos, content, everything) and maintenance generated by a separate mobile and desktop site. You’ll quickly find that the extra money you invested in a responsive website is nothing compared to what you’d spend following months and years of basically having two websites.
7. Accessibility and reach
We are increasingly becoming tied to technology and the Web. Now even a fridge can access the Internet, allowing you to browse as you cook, and the future will only shower us with more and more smart devices. In a 2015 study, almost 50% of respondents claimed they couldn’t imagine their lives without a smartphone. To stay connected with your prospects, to keep them engaged with your business on a level that satiates their needs, you have to speak their language, and now it’s the language of the Internet.
Google estimated that half of smartphone users discover new products and businesses thanks to mobile searches. If you aren’t mobile, you virtually don’t exist. No, it’s not an overstatement, especially for companies that want to sell.
8. Take advantage of mobile users’ behavior
Most consumer journeys begin with mobile searches. In the era of barcodes and online reviews, 56% of in-store consumers use their mobiles to look up a product, often deciding to hunt for a better deal online. If the consumers already run to the Internet to buy better, don’t let them run to your competition. Investing in a responsive website and good mobile strategy helps you connect the offline with the online, tapping mobile consumers even when they shop in-store. Going mobile can help you keep your prospects within your brand’s ecosystem from the beginning of their path to purchase up until the end.
Whether they are tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, fridges, and other Internet of Things appliances, the future lies in the hands of those devices. They have already changed the consumer buying behavior and journey and are likely to alter it further. If you want your business to thrive in the face of these changes, invest in a responsive website. Be where your prospects want to see you – on the screen of their mobile device.