Responsive Web Design: Optimising Your Site For Success

Posted on 12 Nov, 2018 by Admin in

Overhead photo of a wooden desk with a hand holding a smartphone visible with a tablet lying on rthe desk and open laptop. Each screen has the same image viisible stating 'Mobile Web Design' on a midnight blue background.

The rise of the smartphone means that it’s more important than ever to ensure that your website is well optimised. By 2020, it’s been estimated that there will be 6.1 billion (yes, with a ‘b’) smartphones in circulation. That’s a huge amount of people who do the majority of their web browsing on their phones. 55% of social media use is via mobile – and there are similar figures for regular website browsing.

In a single day, an average adult spends 2 hours online on their phone. Do the maths and that adds up to 6o/62 hours a month – and a staggering 30 days a year. If those figures don’t make you realise why it’s vital that your website is optimised and responsive for mobile, then nothing will. But, in case you’re still on the fence, let’s look at some more detailed reasons.

Icon of desktop computer which spins and becomes mobile tablet then spins again to become smartphone icon in greys and light blues on a royal blue background.

7 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile-First Website

There are more than 7 reasons, of course, but these are the most important ones. We’ve kept this section short, so you can move quickly on to our top tips for a responsive and well-optimised website.

1) Google Advocate ‘Mobile First’

In 2018, Google announced that they would be using a ‘mobile-first’ algorithm that prioritises mobile optimised websites in search result rankings. That means that if your site isn’t responsive and easy to use on a smartphone or tablet, you’re going to lose ranking. Maybe not right away, but can your business really afford to take that kind of risk?

2) Your Visitors Will Have A Better Experience

Statistics suggests that when a website isn’t optimised for mobile devices, a massive 61% of people will click away quickly. What’s more, up to 40% of people will look to your competitors instead. That means that if your site isn’t mobile optimised, you’re going to be driving customers to your competitors. That’s not going to be beneficial for your business!

3) Your Customers’ Needs Will Be Met

Your business exists to meet your customers’ needs – and since most of your customers (if not all) will be smartphone users, you need a mobile responsive site. Fail to provide a site that your customers can browse on their phone, and you’re failing to meet their needs. Fail to meet their needs and they’ll look for someone who will.

4) Your Traffic Will Increase

When you have a mobile responsive/optimised site, your traffic will increase. That’s because 57% of all web traffic comes from mobile users (compared to 43.8% from desktops). When your website isn’t adequately optimised, you’ll be missing out on a huge amount of traffic.

5) Your Conversions Will Improve

One of the biggest reasons people cite in surveys for why they don’t buy using a smartphone is poorly optimised sites. 57.5% of users state that sites that aren’t optimised are off-putting and make the shopping experience difficult. If your site is poorly optimised, your conversions will suffer. Well optimised sites, therefore, will improve your conversions, by making the experience better for your visitors.

6) Your Sales Will Be Boosted

When your site is well optimised for mobile devices, you’ll see an increase in your sales. Around 80% of people have made purchases using a mobile device, and mobile-commerce is increasing rapidly. If you don’t capitalise on the massive potential of mobile sales, you’ll miss out in a big way – and your competitors will benefit from your lack of a responsive site.

7) Your Brand Will Benefit

Having a fast, mobile-optimised and responsive website will be appreciated by your loyal customers. You’ll experience greater levels of engagement with your customers and get them talking about your brand. What’s more, you’ll earn a reputation for having a site that’s easy to use and that your customers will be happy to recommend.

Responsive and Effective – Mobile-First Matters

In March 2018, Google announced that they would be prioritising the indexing of mobile versions of web pages rather than desktop versions. What’s more, effectively optimised sites would rank higher in search results. The announcement doesn’t mean that if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it won’t be indexed, but Google are ‘encouraging webmasters to make their content mobile-friendly’.

From July 2018 onwards, slow-loading content, for example, has been demoted in search results – not just for mobile searchers, but for desktop searches, too. That means that if you don’t have a responsive site, you’re going to lose traffic. To check how mobile-friendly Google consider your site to be, you can use the Google mobile friendliness test. If your site fails the test, then you need to take urgent action!

Chalkboard style diagram showing a diagram of a desktop computer with a mobile tablet one side and smartphone the other. In each is a description of responsive web design benefits.

10 Top Tips for Mobile Optimised Websites

Now that we’ve covered all the reasons why you need to ensure your website is optimised to Google’s mobile-first recommendations, let’s look at the how. We’ve pulled together our top ten tips for building a mobile-first website for your business.

1) Content Considerations

Although smartphone screens are getting bigger every year, they’re still relatively small, and you need to take that into consideration. When it comes to text on your pages, it’s important to make sure that it’s readable, not overcrowded, and conveys your message effectively. There’s nothing worse than a website that makes your eyes hurt when you’re viewing it on a mobile screen.

Content matters in terms of your website, and even more so for mobile-first responsiveness. When planning your content, make every word count and create the greatest possible impact. Cut the fluff. You can still write informative content, just keep it to the point!

2) Layout Logistics

Simple, clean and easy to navigate websites perform best in terms of mobile responsiveness, and they make life easier for your users. More and more websites are adopting more minimalistic designs rather than employing all kinds of bells and whistles. T

That’s partly because minimalistic layouts are easier to view on a mobile device, but mostly because minimalism leads to blazing fast loading speeds. Since visitors expect your site to load in a couple of seconds, ditching the features that lead to lag is a big bonus. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, users won’t wait around – they’ll head somewhere else pretty quickly.

3) Device Decisions

While there are a lot of different devices on the market, a lot of people make the mistake of optimising their websites for the device their most familiar with. Don’t risk alienating a large proportion of your potential users by, for example, focusing on optimising for the safari browser on Apple devices. Make sure that your website is mobile optimised for all devices and all browsers.

To make this easy, there are mobile emulators that are available to test how your site looks and loads on a variety of devices. Ensure that you take advantage of this when you’re making your site more responsive and optimised.

4) Thumb Thinking

Since mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets almost always have touch-screens, it’s essential that your users can click buttons, browse your content and use navigation menus easily. Thumb thinking means that you look at your site from the perspective of the people who have to use their thumbs to click the buttons and navigate content.

It can help to think of your own experience of mobile browsing. How do you feel about browsing websites on your smartphone that force you to scroll and zoom in order to click buttons or navigate? It’s an annoying experience for most people – so ensure that you avoid making those kinds of mistakes with your site.

5) Icon Insights

One really cool feature that users seem to love on responsive websites is icons that replace text. There are a lot of awesome options for doing this. You can use icons for your social media profile links, for example, and for call to actions such as ‘call us’ – a phone icon – and ‘email us’ – an email icon.

Since icons reduce the amount of text and make sites less cluttered, they increase the ease of use for mobile users. You don’t have to stop there, either. Get creative with your use of icons to make for a user experience that really stands out and makes your brand memorable.

6) Contact Clarity

For a majority of mobile browsers, being able to find crucial information easily is essential. The most important information that your customers are likely to want to find is your contact details. Your phone number, email address, or physical address should be clearly visible on every page.

Your goal is to reduce the amount of scrolling and navigating that your customers have to do in order to find the information they need. Additionally, prominent contact details can increase your customers’ trust in your site, and increase conversions, too.

7) Link Latitude

It is often impossible to optimise every part of your website for mobile devices. There may be content that performs great for desktop conversions but just isn’t practical for your mobile-optimised site. Whilst you need to exclude that content from your mobile site, you don’t have to dispose of it entirely.

Instead, provide a link to the ‘full version’ of your website so that mobile users have the latitude to visit the content that’s not mobile optimised. This method offers the best of both worlds – giving access to extra content without slowing down or complicating your mobile site.

8) Branding Beautifully

One of the most important things you need to remember when crafting a mobile-first version of your website is to be consistent. Branding is important in helping your customers recognise your business as trustworthy and reliable – and consistency is something Google looks for, too. Some businesses have fallen into the trap of enabling a generic mobile-optimised version of their full website (such as offered in many WordPress themes, for example).

Whilst this is a quick and easy way of ensuring your site works well on mobile, it’s not good for your brand. Generic can be mistaken for fake, whereas consistent branding inspires trust. It’s not worth the time-savings of going generic if it harms your business. Brand beautifully across mobile and desktop versions!

9) Image Inspiration

Although websites with quality images make for a great user experience, large image files slow down loading times. Any kind of high-quality media with a large file size – including videos – will impact on your mobile site performance. It can be a challenge to get the balance right between creating a great user experience through vivid imagery and a lightning fast site.

Go easy on the number of images or ensure that the mobile version of your site uses compressed versions of your images. Test the speed of your site on mobile devices and see how much of a difference fewer or smaller images makes.

10) SEO Standards

As well as optimising your site in terms of content, layout, page loading and so on, don’t forget SEO standards, too. Pay attention to the way that mobile users search for keywords or phrases, for example. Voice searches on mobile devices are on the increase, and this changes the way that keywords need to be optimised.

An iPhone on it's side on a blank background with the screen showing various terms related to the process of search engine optimisation

Local SEO can be particularly useful when it comes to mobile optimisation, if you have a local service that your customers might be searching for. Do your research into how your users are searching and you can capitalise on a huge opportunity for growth.

Final Thoughts

Responsive web design has been around for quite a while now, but with mobile browsing soaring, it’s becoming more and more important. 2018 has seen Google shift the focus to mobile-first indexing, meaning that sites that fail the mobile-friendliness test are going to suffer in search results. It’s crucial that businesses – like yours – ensure that they don’t get left behind in the move towards mobile optimised site design.

The good news is that there are a lot of tools available to help you ensure that your site performs well on mobile devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are becoming more common, for example, meaning that there’s no excuse for not having a mobile responsive website for your business.

Who We Are At Web Design Review

At Web Design Review we are passionate about seeing high quality websites that add value to their owners businesses. As such we research the web design industry (and associated services) before reviewing companies from across the UK. This enables our users to see why certain web designers have the skills to create effective, high quality sites for them.

We also publish regular articles on our blog that explain the industry and offer tips and advice. This is complimented by our Learning Zone, with content such as our Beginner’s Guide To Web Design, which explains different topics related to web design and digital marketing in simple language.

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