If you can’t remember the last time you used the reverse pinch gesture on your smartphone to zoom in on a website that’s probably because Google doesn’t want you to.
In April 2015, Google launched changes to their search algorithm to make it easier for users to access "relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices".
In other words, if your website is not designed for all manner of devices Google will force your site down the mobile search rankings.
The changes came as a response to the increasing diversity in device usage and the predicted rise in mobile searches. Google have found when people need to know something, they turn to their nearest device which, throughout the day, is their smartphone more often than not. In fact, 27 percent of people search exclusively on their smartphones, according to Google, which is almost double the number who search solely on computers and laptops.
More devices equals more headaches for marketers keen to stage on the first page of Google search results. So, what do marketers need to ensure their site offers frictionless user experience and accessibility across all devices? The answer is responsive web design.
Why responsive not mobile templates
Adaptive mobile templates offered a reasonable and affordable stop gap before the transition to responsive web design, but for two major reasons their time has passed.
First, a mobile template was often a cut down version of your main site and limited the content available to the user based on assumptions of what 'mobile users' want. But mobile users are the same as all users and those basic websites often left people more frustrated than satisfied with the experience.
Second, this second template means that you are left with two websites to manage, effectively doubling your workload.
Finally, although you have created a 'mobile friendly' website, it's still not 'tablet-friendly'. Mobile templates are not built to be responsive to all screen sizes.
Responsive web design solves these issues by presenting all the same content under one URL no matter the screen size. And there are SEO benefits for having one URL, too, as it allows Googlebot to index your site more easily.
It's not just about looking good - it's all about UX
If you can remember using the reverse pinch to zoom in, you also probably remember being frustrated by it.
Web users are impatient. They scan for the information they need and if they don't find it quickly they are likely to abandon the website. Responsive websites avoid these pitfalls when built with the user in mind.
The history of web design has lead to the prioritising of the user experience.
First, in the mid-1990s the table-based layout made website easier to navigate. Then in the late 90s, Flash websites zeroed in on appearance and usability before UX took a step back when content was prioritised over design to improve SEO and after the arrival of Web 2.0.
But, by 2013, new search algorithms (thanks Google!) helped proliferate minimalism, flat graphics, blended typography and large background images on websites designed to respond to user circumstance.
Butterfly has been at the cutting edge of accessible and responsive design since the revolution began five years ago.
Case in point
When Camp Quality needed a new service-led,
user-friendly site they turned to Butterfly.
Many users visiting Camp Quality online have recently found out their child or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. Butterfly built the website with those users in mind, ensuring the design was frictionless and friendly. Camp Quality's new responsive website yielded a 345 percent increase in mobile traffic and earned Butterfly multiple design awards.
If you would like to investigate responsive web design for your site, please contact our account team.
Want to know if your site is responsive?