Why it's CRUCIAL that your Website is Responsive
Having a mobile friendly website is absolutely crucial in this day and age but...what does “mobile friendly” mean? WHY is is it crucial? How can it improve your business and your rankings in Google? What steps can you take if your website is NOT mobile friendly? I will answer all of these questions and maybe a few others in this article.
Before I begin to explain what “mobile friendly” means, let me just quickly point out that you may hear people use other terms that mean basically the same thing. A few of these are: “responsive”, “mobile responsive” and “mobile optimized”. That being said, if you are looking to have a new website built or create one yourself, you can feel comfortable that, if your designer (or the software you intend to use on your own), claims that the end product will be one of these things - then you are in good shape!
So What Does Mobile Friendly Mean?
Basically, a website that is mobile friendly looks the way that it should look and behaves the way that it should behave when viewed on a smart phone. Not too mysterious, right? But let me dig jusssst a tiny bit deeper because the word “should” can be pretty vague!
Generally Speaking, in order to be considered Mobile Friendly, your site should:
- Have the navigation area collapse into what is sometimes called a “hamburger menu” - which is simply one of those 3 horizontal lines you often see in the upper right side of a mobile website. An exception would be a landing page or a site that is only 2 or 3 pages total.
- Collapse into a single column layout - in other words, the ONLY scrolling a user should have to do is up-and-down scrolling, NOT left to right!
- Use a font size that is legible on a 3” screen (the average size of the screen on a smart phone)
Why Is Having a Mobile Friendly (Responsive, Optimized etc) CRUCIAL?
Reason 1: NOT having a mobile friendly site creates a HORRIBLE user experience!
Pretend you are out on the town with some friends and you all decide that you are in the mood for Italian food. One of the people in your group takes out their phone and says “Ok Google….Italian Restaurants in my area”. Google returns a list of restaurants and you click through on a link that takes you to a website that is laid out in 3 columns! 3 columns works on a desktop computer, but on a 3" screen, Clark Kent himself, fresh out of the phone booth couldn't make sense of it! The only way you can possibly read the site at all is if you zoom waaay in, shove the screen up to your nose and scroll left to right. You can’t get from page to page, you can’t easily see their hours, their menu or any other relevant information.
How long are you going to stay on this site when you know full well there are 20 other websites for Italian Restaurants in the area? Not very long would be my guess!
Reason 2: Google said so!
Back in April of 2015 (at the time of this writing, THREE YEARS AGO) Google released one of their infamous Algorithms called “Mobilegeddon” which, in a nutshell, said that website owners needed “get with the times - - - or else”!
Or else what?
Would they take your website down? No. They can’t do that. BUT they can take away a healthy portion of your website’s ability to rank in their search engine, and thqt's almost the same thing.
With this being said, although many people may not think of it as such, having a responsive, mobile friendly website is actually a form of SEO (search engine optimization) which is, in my opinion, the most effective and targeted way to promote your business. For more information on this, see one of my other articles about SEO.
As a side note: It was estimated that in 2015 when Mobilegeddon was released 77% of Google searches came from smart phones! You can BET that number has NOT gone down!
Reason 3: First Impressons Last!
For years now, the first impression that people ever get of your business is what they see online. Whether that be your social media presence, reviews people have left about the business, or your actual website. If the first thing people notice is that you are doing things in an antiquated, out-of-date sort of way then they will subconsciously assume that you do EVERYTHING that way. It may not be fair, but it is true! So...get over it and get this poorly tended to aspect of your business up to snuff!
So You Know Your Website Is NOT Mobile Friendly, What Can You Do About It?
First, let me tell you a few things I would recommend that you do NOT do. And, for the sake of brevity in an already lenthy Blog post, I will omit the reasons why - at least for now.
- Create a separate version of your website for mobile!
- Use a 3rd party app like Duda Mobile (under any circumstances!)
- Create a one page version of your website with a link that says something to the effect of “Click Here To View Full Site” - and then have that link take the user to your non-mobile friendly website! (Don’t laugh, businesses do this ALL THE TIME)
- Use WIX. Don’t use it yourself or work with anyone that uses it
Ok, now that that is taken care of, here are a few solid options. Bear in mind that a lot will be dependent on your website and the type of situation that you find yourself in.
Option 1: Have A Professional Create A Mobile Friendly Site For You
This is a good option for a few reasons. The obvious one being that YOU won’t have to deal with the frustratio yourself and will be able to put your focus where it truly needs to be - on your business!
Also, a professional will likely be able to get your project done in a fraction of the time it woud take you do figure it out - presumably with a better final product!
Lastly, being a web designer myself, it has become apparent to me that a LOT of businesses want to keep the same look of their old website when people visit it on larger devices; a good designer should be able to almost keep the “desktop computer look” identical to what it was before, while putting together a nice responsive design for smaller devices.
Option 2a: Learn WordPress Yourself
This one is for the ambitious DIYers! Learn enough about WordPress in order to create your own WordPress site using a mobile responsive theme! A word to the wise about this option, though - - while I DO believe that anyone can learn WordPress (heck, I believe anyone can do anything they set their mind to) I will NOT make the mistake of saying that learning WordPress is "easy". There is a steep learning curve and there is a LOT to learn, especially if you are going to be doing the future upkeep yourself. WordPress is the best- but it is not a “set it and forget it” type of deal!
Only choose this option if you are NOT afraid to get your hands dirty. That said, this is the BEST option in my opinion.
Option 2b: Learn Weebly
This option is for the DIYER as well but more for those that don’t have the same amount of ambition and/or time as the group mentioned in optin 2a! Learn to do your website with Weebly. Weebly is a MUCH easier platform to work with than WordPress. For that reason it is much less robust and has far fewer options than WordPress. For example you will be forced into a Weebly cookie cutter template that you can’t really alter a whole bunch..
There are other disadvantages as well, but overall this is a decent option worth considering if you just don’t have the time or inclination to learn WordPress and don’t want to spend the money on hiring a professional.
What have we learned?
So now you understand WHY it is crucial to have a mobile friendly website. You understand that you’ll often hear the terms “mobile friendly” “mobile optimized”, “mobile responsive” “responsive design” (and probably several others) used interchangeably - they all mean basically the same thing so don’t let it confuse you! And finally, you are a aware of several options you have to get your website up-to-date.
If you have thoughts about this topic, feel free to comment below. If you found this information useful and know someone that should read it - please pass it along! Or, share the article via your social media. Whatever and whichever floats your boat! :)
Lastly, If I can be of service at all, you can reach out to me via my website at Thirsty Fish Graphic Design.