Alex Fenton

Why Responsive Design is More Important Than Ever

August 21, 2015

The recent 2015 Ofcom report into Communications Marketing has confirmed that we are officially a mobile society. For the first time, the smartphone has overtaken laptops as the device users say is the most important for connecting to the internet.

Why is this important? Well the statistics show that the type of activity that phones and tablets are used for has changed dramatically. E-commerce sales have doubled in the last 5 years and purchases made through mobile devices accounts for 40% of these sales.

Two thirds of the adult population now has a smartphone and a 32% of these say they couldn’t live without it. This rises to 62% of 4G users so there is no doubt that our faster connections and huge range of uses for our phones are making them an essential part of our lives.

This might not be surprising to you at all, but it is quite amazing just how quickly these statistics have increased. Only three years ago, the laptop was considered the most important device and smartphone ownership was 27% lower.

We’ve been talking about responsive design for quite some time now and have been keeping track of Google’s new ‘mobile-friendly’ algorithm. Although this didn’t have as big an impact as some might have had you believe, it does make a big difference for those who fall into the categories above – i.e. mobile browsing users.

For a great example of responsive design, head over to Shetland.org. If you are on a computer, scroll down and resize your browser by adjust the width of the window. As you do so, you'll see the content adjust to remain perfectly scaled and 'responsive' to your adjustments.

The graphic below illustrates how unusable non-responsive sites can be and if you want people to stay on your site, it is more important than ever to consider web users with a ‘mobile-first’ approach.

What should I do now?

There are several options for those with non-responsive sites. You could do nothing. If the majority of visitors to your site are on desktops (which you can find out in Analytics), then you might not be too bothered about any updates. This is quite unlikely for the majority of sites. The average is currently around 50% of visitors using mobiles or tablets.

If you really like your current website design or it is relatively new, you can opt for what is know as a ‘responsive retrofit’. This is where adjustments are made to the coding of your site to tell browsers how to adjust the layout of pages as the screensize decreases. This can be a cost effective option to keep Google happy that your site is mobile friendly, without outlaying the cost for a complete redesign.

Finally, if your website is more than 4 or 5 years old, you should seriously consider a complete redesign. The evidence from the Ofcom statistics shows that mobile devices are considered the most important by users, and therefore as website designers and owners, we should consider them the most important too.

August 21, 2015

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