It’s no secret that Americans are addicted to their smartphones. Time reported that the average American checks their smartphones approximately 46 times a day; some reports go as high at 86. Regardless of whether or not this is a healthy habit (no judgement, I do it too!), we can no longer deny that mobile web browsing is here to stay.
A mobile movement has officially begun but this shift has been a long time coming.
Last year, Google confirmed what many of us have been anticipating for years. Mobile search queries have just recently overtaken desktop queries: Google says that “more [web] searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan.” Mobile device browsing finally took over desktop usage in 2014, making it the biggest shift since the dawn of the internet.
With this information at hand, for many businesses, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your website and ask yourself: Am I ready?
Is there a difference between mobile-friendly and responsiveness? Mobile-friendly is just what it sounds like: it’s a website that’s friendly, or designed for, your mobile device. I’m sure all of you have visited a website that was obviously NOT mobile-friendly—it simply looked like a teeny-tiny version of the desktop website.
While there are worse things in the world, a website that’s not mobile-friendly also happens to not be very user-friendly.A website that’s not mobile-friendly is not very user-friendly. Click To Tweet
I don’t know if you remember that one website you visited, where you had to zoom in with your fingers just to read the menu items. Buttons and links were hard to press, the text was too small, and I bet you eventually gave up.
Well, the same thing happens with your visitors if they stumble upon your website on their iPhone, only to find it’s not mobile-friendly.
Now, even though mobile-friendly and responsive are used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same.
In strictest terms, a “mobile-friendly” website is a site that has been optimized for the web—the website can tell what type of device you’re on, and discreetly redirects you to the web version of the website. The content is more static, and there is usually less of it. I personally do not like mobile versions of websites, since they are so limited. When asked or prompted on my phone, I always stay with the full site version, unless it’s impossible to use.
A responsive website is slightly different—the site’s content shifts, or responds, to whatever size the device displaying it is. So whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, desktop, or heaven forbid, an Android ;), you get to view the site as relatively the same but it’s easier to read and view. Responsive websites are also the full website, so there’s practically no downsides of having a website be responsive. In fact, more and more, that is the recommended way to go.
Clearly, smartphones are here to stay and they are not going away. This means that web design must move in a mobile direction in order to keep up.
But, aside from the popularity of mobile devices, why should you have a responsive website that’s friendly to mobile devices? Well, as it turns out, there’s a few good reasons that you need to make the switch pronto, if you haven’t already.
A large number of business owners have not yet realized that Google recently released another update to their search engine algorithm. This update promotes responsive sites and allows users to find pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly. If you are currently operating without a mobile-friendly website, you will most likely be penalized with a lower ranking. In a nutshell, Google likes websites that are mobile-friendly. We always want to make Google happy.
It’s a simple equation, mobile-friendly = user friendly! The average user stays on a webpage for less than a minute. If your website is responsive, your visitors are more likely to stay instead of leaving in frustration.mobile-friendly = user friendly Click To Tweet
Mobile usage is not going anywhere anytime soon; if anything, the trend is continuing upwards. While I don’t think desktops are going by way of the dodo, I can envision a future where the vast majority of web browsing is performed on a handheld device. So this is potentially huge, and it’s important to be ahead of the wave with your company.
First, determine whether or not your website is responsive. It can be a toss up depending on when you had it designed and by who. If your website is more than 5 years old, there’s a good chance that it’s not responsive.
If you’re not sure, try resizing your browser and see what happens; but of course, the gold standard is to just hop onto your iPhone or iPad and see. Even better? Do you own cross-browser compatibility test and
steal borrow different smart phones from your friends (for example, if you have an iPhone 6s, try it on an iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy).
Making your website responsive may seem intimidating and rather impossible at first but it can be done. I recommend hiring a qualified website developer or designer for help with this; creating a new website or converting a current one to responsive is no walk in the park and best left to professionals (like Apex Creative; every website that we create is responsive /end shameless plug).
Is the trend of mobile responsiveness the wave of the future? Or will we move past it and into something better? Do you think desktops will eventually go extinct? Share your thoughts below!