08 Jul Why You Should Be Receptive To Responsive
Whether you’re running the Government Affairs division of a Fortune 500 company or you’re trying to build awareness for your nonprofit, your success depends in great part on managing the flow of information to your target audiences. That includes navigating and managing the ever-expanding realm of digital communication. At the heart of that — your website.
According to a study by comScore, total time spent consuming digital media in the U.S. jumped 24% in the past year. While mobile use is rising steadily, that growth —surprisingly — has not come at the expense of desktop browsing, which saw a 1% uptick in 2014. So how do you make sure your website’s message comes through loud and clear in the face of diverse user behavior and a seemingly endless list of devices?
You’ve heard the buzzwords — mobile-friendly, mobile first, Mobilegeddon. Of all the trends surrounding digital design and the mobile web, there’s one that continues to reside at the top of the list; one you can’t afford to ignore. Responsive.
Surely you’ve heard of responsive design, but what is it and why does it matter? In short, responsive design makes your website device agnostic, optimizing navigation, text and images, fluidly, across devices.
Adaptive vs Responsive
Though they have similar goals, adaptive sites are different from responsive sites. As the name implies, adaptive sites “adapt” to fit a predetermined set of screen and device sizes. There might be a mobile layout, a desktop layout and a tablet layout — three distinct, preset layouts ready and waiting to be delivered based on the detected device. By contrast, a responsive site uses a single layout that automatically “responds” to the size of the user’s browser. One design, all devices.
But why responsive?
No matter what industry you work within or serve, the importance of having a site that seamlessly serves both desktop and mobile users cannot be overstated. Recent data from Pew Research indicates that:
- 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
- 57% have used their phone to do online banking.
- 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
- 43% to look up information about a job.
- 40% to look up government services or information.
- 30% to take a class or get educational content.
Oh, it also helps boost your search engine optimization, so people can find you. But, wait. You have a mobile site so you’re set, right? Why invest the money and time to build a responsive site?
Beyond the obvious efficiency of managing a single, responsive website versus multiple versions of a non-responsive site, going responsive puts your end users’ needs first, delivering a better, more consistent user experience across devices.
Imagine a common scenario — you’re planning a trip. You start with a fare check from your tablet over coffee. You narrow down your flight options from your desktop computer at work. Back at home, you finally sit down to book your flight. You grab your smartphone and get to work. Instead of easily locating the flight you found earlier, you’re faced with a mobile version of the airline’s website that is so pared down that you can no longer find the flight you had wanted. Or, maybe you find yourself trying every trick in the mobile browsing book — pinching, scrolling, switching from portrait to landscape and back again — to muddle through a shrunken version of the airline’s desktop website.
In 2012, Google reported that 61% of users say they will quickly move on to another site if they don’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site. Fifty percent added that if a site isn’t mobile friendly, they will use it less. These numbers have serious implications for professionals looking to engage an ever-growing mobile browsing population — and they haven’t gotten more promising in the past three years.
Imagine losing more than half of your site’s visitors for reasons that are entirely avoidable, not to mention the impact of Google’s April algorithm update favoring mobile-friendly sites in search. Now imagine you have a responsive website that delivers a consistent user experience across all devices. Imagine meaningfully engaging your users and delivering the content they want, when and how they want it.
Users can quickly move from desktop to tablet to smartphone and back again with ease, and you can achieve your business goals.