by Tom Ewer
A KEY CHARACTER TRAIT SHARED BY MOST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES IS ADAPTABILITY.
Businesses that prosper in an ever-changing environment are the ones that know how to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, and how to change their way of interacting with their world to stay on top.
With that in mind, if you don’t have a responsive web platform to showcase your services and/or products, you’ve already been left behind.
According to comScore, smartphones and tablets now account for 60% of time spent online. That trend is set to continue, with mobile devices on the rise and desktop browsing continuing to dwindle.
Obviously more people prefer using an app than a laptop to access Facebook, book a flight, or browse an online marketplace. That is understandable, given the convenience of a pocket-size tool that offers many of the benefits of something ten times the size. The statistics can be confirmed by simply looking around and noticing how many people are constantly glued to their smartphones.
As early as 2008 the forecasts indicated the trend, and in 2014 it became reality. Responsive design is no longer a luxury or a ‘nice to have’, but a necessity. Here are five reasons why.
1. Keeping Your Business Visible Is More Complex Today
More and more people are using the odd moment of free time to take care of emails while they wait in line, or browse social media while commuting, and so on. As the smartphone culture continues to seep into our day-to-day lives, we are beginning to take advantage of the new opportunities available to us.
However, there’s nothing more frustrating than browsing a website that doesn’t ‘work’ on your phone!
It is hard to estimate the value of potential sales that are lost because of this oversight, but numerous studies show that conversion rates are impacted by responsive design.
The rate of innovation continues to follow an exponential curve. New devices with new display capabilities are appearing faster than web architects are able to adapt. Responsive design is the solution.
Google, the market leader in the search engine world, also prefers responsive design, and it always pays to take note of the Big G’s evolving approach to SEO regarding new technology. Pierre Farr, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, confirmed the company’s methodologies relating to responsive design in 2012, and today their Googlebot-mobile engine still prefers sites which are set up to be responsive and use a single HTML and URL set.
By making it easier for Google to crawl your site, you’re improving your SEO impact and ensuring a constant stream of visitors to the website you’ve worked so hard to create. As never before, SEO is impacted by your site’s responsiveness.
2. Continuity Has Become Vital
These days, you can’t get away with a website that only performs at its best on Internet Explorer. Your site needs to maintain its look and feel across the full spectrum of browsing platforms and devices.
Instead of having to zoom or shrink text and images while browsing on a mobile device, users would rather skip the hassle and look elsewhere. One statistic on Google’s Think Insights on Mobile puts the figure at a61% chance of losing the sale.
This is how it might go wrong:
A potential client notices your enticing advert while browsing on a PC at work, follows the link, and likes what he sees.
He makes a mental note to follow it up while on his lunch break. An hour or two later he sits down with his sandwich and gets onto your site via his new smartphone, but finds a site which looks different, and with information that doesn’t agree with what he’s already set his mind on.
Struggling to navigate the search option, he eventually gives up, and decides to try something else.
Your bounce rate just went up a notch.
With good responsive design, content, grids and images move freely across all screen resolutions and devices. The fluidity of the design allows your customer to access exactly the same information, and the scenario just described is a thing of the past. Nurturing the sale becomes seamless.
3. Ease of Use Is Evolving
As technology and design trends evolve, so do the expectations of your potential customers. Your business portal is perceived as trustworthy, up-to-date and worthwhile based largely on how easy it is to connect with you. It is becoming ever more difficult to impress.
Responsive design means more than just a website that looks good on a smartphone. The browsing experience is developing towards a smarter, more interactive level, with sites being able to determine your location, your browsing device and many of your preferences. Being responsive means seeing each user as an individual, with his or her own likes and dislikes.
Ease of use and an intuitive viewing experience is no longer optional – it is a necessity. Your approach to design needs to take note of the developing environment in which it exists. Ignoring the change will impact negatively on your growth.
4. Responsive Is Cheaper and the Way of the Future
With the recent introduction of smart watches into the mix of new browsing devices, more designers and marketers are realizing the importance of an adaptive approach. Add to that the capability of browsing the web using your TV remote on your large flat screen at home, and you can see that the future of web marketing is headed one way.
The future is uncertain, as always, so it’s a wise move to opt for a design solution that can adapt. Whatever innovation the propeller heads in gadget laboratories come up with, responsive design will ensure that your marketing efforts can be viewed easily and consistently.
Instead of maintaining multiple versions of your online information, responsive design lets you keep everything up to date in one place. Why waste resources maintaining multiple SEO campaigns? It makes sense to combine everything into a single adaptive site.
5. Being Responsive Shows That You Care
Despite a heavy focus on marketing, and ultimately making more money, we sometimes forget about the most important thing: people.
Behavioral Psychology models show us that three key factors are at work when users access your site:
- Motivation. This one’s up to you and/or your marketing team.
- Ease of use. Once a user has the necessary motivation, they need to be able to perform their intended behavior.
- A trigger. Or even better, multiple triggers. This ties in with ease of use – there should be multiple, clear opportunities for users to execute their intended behavior.
In other words, design your site with the aim of making it easy for the user to do what you want them to do.
If you think of customers as human beings rather than as numbers or sales targets, responsive design offers the best way to interact. Showing a person that you care about his or her opinion is a good way to foster trust. By designing your interactivity to be user-centric, and customizing your approach to fit the user’s personal needs, you’re taking steps in the right direction.
Going beyond simply making your site adapt to a device, consider implementing a responsive philosophy. This means fitting the overall experience of visiting your page within an appropriate context, lending more weight to features that the individual user will find beneficial. Rather than getting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment, people enjoy feeling special.
Besides pure design elements such as ghost buttons, flat design and supersize HD images – which are all trending elements in the design marketplace right now – responsive design is the number one hot topic. The reason for this is not hard to see, given the reasons we’ve explored above. There is no doubt that the trends will continue into 2015 as they have in the past two years, and now is the time to change if you haven’t done so already.
There’s more reason than ever before to update your approach to marketing. The proliferation of new mobile devices, together with the boom in app sales, all point in the same direction.
As people take advantage of smartphones and tablets with fantastic new features, you need to keep re-inventing your ideas about what works and what doesn’t. With new avenues for exposure opening up, and old ones going the way of the dodo, it pays to keep your business visible, whether it happens to be on a large screen at home, or a tiny screen worn on someone’s wrist.
By incorporating responsive design into your strategy, you’re making sure that you have all the bases covered. Don’t get left behind!