Websites have been the prominent way of making content easily accessible to users. They are typically the first interaction a customer has with a company, so it's important to have a website that impresses people when they view it.
Also, user data factors into search engine algorithms, affecting a site's ranking in search results. Design elements have focused on computers since they have been the dominant device for viewing websites.
In recent years, however, changes have come to the way people interact with online content, and it is important to take these factors and changes into consideration when designing a website.
1. Mobile First World
For the past decade, the mobile market has grown significantly. After the rise of the smartphone came the introduction of tablets, and as a result more users have begun to interact with the internet using the smaller screens of mobile devices.
As such, websites designed for larger laptop and desktop screens will not fit properly on a mobile device's display.
Each device has its own form of user interaction, and it's important for a website to take this into consideration.
For example, a phone is designed to be navigated with the thumb or index finger. A website must be able to also be navigated with one hand, with easy to reach menus and content that is easy to scroll through.
Tablets are designed to be used with two hands, but screen real estate is typically less than a full desktop, and content needs to shrink down to fit within the narrower display, especially when viewed with the tablet in portrait orientation.
Changes occur rapidly in the tech industry. New types of mobile devices are released each year, with different screen sizes, orientations, and resolutions.
Having a responsive website makes it easy to scale a website as each device is released without needing to completely redesign the site. This typically involves a few lines of code that tests for the screen size conditions.
Making the website for the desktop is easy since there is a lot of space for putting text, images, and menus. Scale that down to a smartphone and things become hidden and more difficult to use.
A responsive website can test for the width of the device. Many websites, including Apple’s, choose to display a full menu bar for the desktop version of the site.
They then test for the width of the device and, when the buttons are too close together, they opt to hide the menu options in a single drop down menu activated with a tap. This simplifies the user interface, and still keeps the navigation buttons accessible.
3. Simplified Coding
When mobile devices first came out, there were no options for creating a unified website, so companies had to build a version of their site for each device.
This is not the case today, and the different coded versions of a website can be made using a small amount of code for designing per screen size requirements.
A few lines of code tests for the width of the screen, then the programmer can assign code for the layout for each range of screen size, with auto scaling menus, images and button layouts. This means the site will resize itself automatically without needing further programming.
4. Unified User Experience
Designing a single, adaptive website creates a consistent and quality user experience across the board.
A user can expect the same experience accessing the website on a mobile device or on a desktop machine, which can aid in having the user visit the site more often.
5. SEO Benefits
Reducing the number of versions of web pages means the algorithms employed by search engines will be more likely to show a mobile optimized website more prominently in search results, drawing more users towards a site.
Additionally, the algorithm will take into consideration the fact that the website has been optimized for the mobile experience, which many of the search engines encourage when designing a website.
You can check to see if your site is mobile responsive using a tool like Google's mobile friendly test.
6. Faster Operation
Mobile devices are meant to provide information to a user quickly, and users have come to expect this of websites they visit on their phones and tablets.
A mobile responsive website would take this into account, replacing graphics intensive pages and ads, which take time to load, with faster, mobile optimized versions of these.
Many companies have optimized their websites for mobile devices, while others have not. Mobile customers are more likely to visit and spend more time on the mobile optimized sites since they are better designed for the device they are using.
8. Social Media
Another part of the mobile experience is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are all optimized and highly used on mobile devices. They are also some of the biggest sources for getting followers and website traffic.
As many people will be viewing shared links on mobile devices, it is important to share a link to a website optimized for mobile devices.
Mobile users are actively moving and frequently away from a computer. While on the go, they still look things up on the internet.
A responsive website that is optimized for mobile devices is more likely to rank in search engines. This means it will be accessible to more users and as a result more people are likely to visit the site.
10. Offline Browsing
With the release of HTML5 has come the added bonus of users being able to save websites for offline viewing, meaning they can access it without being connected to the internet.
When users are out and about, they may not be able to connect to the internet. However, if the site is optimized for offline viewing, the site can still be accessed when much of the competition may not.
This gives an added usability and accessibility bonus for the mobile optimized website over the non optimized version.
I hope you found this information beneficial and feel free to connect with us on social media with any thoughts or questions you may have.