Internet behavior is changing. Today, mobile internet users make up the lion’s share of total web surfers. In response, a growing number of businesses are building new sites or overhauling their current website in favor of a mobile-responsive design. 

Today, it’s more important than ever for a business to set up its website to cater to the mobile user’s experience. But why and what is mobile responsive? Below we’ll explain:

  • Why use responsive design?
  • What is entailed in mobile-responsive web design?

Outfitted with this information, you’ll be prepared to make the right moves for your business and website. 

Why use responsive design

There are several important reasons why mobile responsive websites are the way of the future. Primary arguments in favor of responsive design include:

Increasing Mobile Usage

In 2016, in the race for internet supremacy, mobile dramatically overtook desktop as the primary way that internet users access the world wide web. Since then, an increasingly larger share of people surf the web, make a purchase, or search for something from the convenience of their phone rather than turning to their personal computer. According to a 2020 Broadband Search study:

  • Mobile accounts for 59% of organic search visits. (Organic visits are ones where a user searches something on Google and then clicks on a website that is not labeled “ad.”)
  • Mobile users spent 203 minutes per day consuming media compared to 128 minutes per day for desktop users.
  • Mobile accounts for 53% of total web traffic.

Unfortunately, plenty of businesses aren’t armed with this knowledge and still make the mistake of tailoring their website to desktop users and not mobile users. For mobile users, this leads to poor user experience and turns away a potential customer, leading them straight to the welcoming arms of your competitor and their mobile-responsive website that’s made for smaller screens.

The worst-case scenario! 

Better UX

UX is an industry term for “user experience.” When it comes to mobile devices and apps, UX is a top priority.

A responsive website makes for a better overall user experience, especially for mobile and tablet users. Typically, it’s created for mobile-first, since that’s the hardest to design; once the problems for mobile are solved, doing the same for desktop becomes a much simpler process. This is especially true since mobile has more serious limitations, including:

  • Screen size
  • Bandwidth
  • Interactivity

A mobile-responsive approach centers on an adaptive design so content looks great no matter what device it’s being viewed on.

The type of site also matters. If it’s a blog, people need to be able to read the content; if it’s a store, purchasing should be simple and navigable; and if it’s a social media site, people need to be able to interact easily with one another. 

So, what are some of the features that lead to a better user experience?

  • A visual hierarchy – The most important elements on a page are displayed prominently.
  • Enlarged touch targets – Since fingers are less precise than a mouse icon, hyperlinks and buttons need to be larger and have plenty of space in order to interact with them.   
  • No mouseover hovers – Designers for desktop often utilize “hover over” features for an interactive experience. Although iPhone and other devices do allow for haptic touch — 3d touch features — it hasn’t really caught on with the majority of mobile users.  
  • No large graphics – While images can still be used for mobile, landscape photos and complex graphic displays are less impactful on a smaller screen. 

Faster load times

Long gone are the dial-up days when a page would take ten minutes to load a single picture. Now, users expect your site to load quickly. If they click to another page, it should open up immediately. 

Speed is a killer, and slow-loading pages can negatively impact conversion rates. According to Neil Patel, one of the world’s foremost digital marketing experts, page speeds matter:

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in under 2 seconds
  • 40% of users leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
  • The majority of internet users have encountered a website that was too slow to load, crashed, froze, or led to an error

Even if a one-second page response delay only leads to a 5% reduction in conversions, for a website pulling in $10,000 every day, that would represent approximately $180,000 in lost sales annually. When it comes to impatient users, speed matters. A mobile-responsive design speeds up load times by:

  • Compressing images
  • Reducing the number of requests
  • Loading visible content first
  • Reducing server response time. 

Higher conversion rates and lower bounce rates 

Compared to static websites, responsive websites have lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates on average. This makes sense since users enjoy their experience and spend less time waiting for the page to load. By tailoring the web content to the user, it makes it easy for users to view and navigate any page, which keeps them on the page for longer. 

Lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates lead to increased sales and happier site visitors. This represents tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars you stand to gain by simply switching over to a mobile-responsive site such as those provided by Constant Contact. 

Increases sites search engine optimization (SEO)

You might be curious why responsive website design is good for SEO. First, let’s talk about what SEO is. SEO is a technique (rather, a group of techniques) to communicate with a search engine algorithm (like Google or Bing). By inputting key design and content features, you’re able to make your site more visible to search users. 

If you were to pinpoint a single moment in time when everything changed with SEO, it all started with “Mobilegeddon.” 

On April 21st, 2015, Google released a new algorithm that was designed to boost mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. Sites that were ahead of the curve suddenly experienced astronomical user increases thanks to the changes. Those that weren’t prepared frantically scrambled to ensure that their site was tailored to mobile. In a short amount of time, this update had such a significant impact on website traffic that it was dubbed “mobilegeddon.” 

Today, Google and the other competing search engines heavily favor responsive websites for several reasons, including:

  • They use a single URL and HTML, which makes it easier to analyze and organize
  • Pages load faster
  • Improved site usability
  • Increased time on page
  • Decreased bounce rate
  • Less duplicate content
  • Increased social sharing

What is entailed in mobile-responsive design? 

When web designers discuss the responsiveness of a website, it’s in relation to its adaptability. In other words, how does it — the layout and content on the page — respond to the screen it appears on? 

In the past, most websites employed a static design — one that was built exclusively with desktops in mind. In the early days of smartphones, a mobile user would visit a company’s website (which was built for desktop), and the user experience was typically atrocious. Often, the web page was not mobile friendly and the content didn’t fit the phone screen, video players and images wouldn’t load or work, the page wouldn’t flip if the screen was horizontal, and the font size was not fit for a mobile site or small screens. It was a total mess.  

While companies could get away with it initially, many soon realized that they were missing out on sales opportunities and driving away potential customers by having a clunky site that was incompatible with a mobile experience. And this is why mobile responsive websites were first designed.

So, what is entailed in a mobile-responsive design?

Changing screen size

A responsive website will improve your website by automatically changing or reshaping its content in order to fit the device that mobile visitors are reading it on. The website looks at the data coming from the device, accounts for the size of the screen and the ideal resolution, and then selects the format that is best suited. 

Typically, there are four types of screen sizes that responsive design is tailored to smartphones and tablets, including:

  • Widescreen browser window desktop, 1220+ pixels
  • Smaller desktop (laptops), 960-1219 pixels
  • Tablets, 768-959 pixels
  • Mobile phones, 480-767 pixels (wide), 479 or less pixels (vertical)

Depending on the device you use, the content on the screen will shift around to best display the page. But saying that it shifts to fit the size of the device is putting it too simply. The reason it shifts is because it is a responsive layout or adaptive web design.

It makes content dynamic

With a responsive design, the content is dynamic — images are optimized, spacing and formatting are tailored. So, texts, images, and videos will automatically fit perfectly to your screen. Common characteristics of a mobile-responsive website include:

  • Content that adapts to the device’s screen, so there’s no need for horizontal scrolling
  • Plenty of space for tap targets (links and buttons) so that tapping isn’t difficult
  • Readable text without needing to zoom
  • No flash player
  • Fast load times

Even if you’re on a desktop, you will see if the site you’re on is responsive. All you have to do is shrink the window and then see whether or not the display changes to fit the window size. 

It’s responsive and adaptive design, not just “friendly”

It’s important to note that many people mistakenly believe that mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive are synonymous with one another. They aren’t. Although a mobile-friendly site may fit your mobile device, the site functionality doesn’t change depending on the device. Really, the only thing that is changing is the site’s scale. As a result, many of the features such as drop-downs and navigation will be limited on mobile, and overall, the site will be less functional and less readable.

Unlike a mobile-friendly design, truly responsive websites react to the user and their device, and place usability — no matter the device — at the forefront. Although a mobile-friendly site is better than nothing at all, it pales in comparison to the experience of a mobile-responsive design. 

The future is mobile 

It should go without saying that if numbers and trends are any indicators, mobile devices and tablets will continue to build a significant lead on usage rates for both search engines and online purchases. As both devices continue to advance and grow more powerful and 5g becomes a global reality, it will be more important than ever to ‘get with the mobile times’ and center your website design on a mobile-responsive philosophy. 

A mobile-responsive design eliminates redundancy and the need for multiple versions of your site. This saves you time and money and ensures that your site visitors have an experience that’s custom-made according to their wants and needs. As a growing tide of businesses join the throng of trendsetters and make the switch, those websites that refuse to adapt will stand out even more — and not in a good way, unfortunately. 

The solution: a mobile-responsive website

In an increasingly mobile-centric world, your site design could mean the difference in your business’s success or failure. By creating a mobile-responsive site, you stand to benefit in all manner of ways, including: 

  • Better UX
  • Faster load times
  • Increased conversions
  • Decreased drop rates
  • Better SEO

Don’t wait. Get started now. Join the mobile revolution!