Like the terms “cloud” or “big data,” “responsive” is a common buzzword in the vernacular of the internet, often used and rarely understood. But buzzwords don’t become popular for no reason, and it’s important to understand the value of this particular element of your website.
What does “responsive” mean?
Simply put, responsive web design refers to a site that adapts to the device on which it’s being viewed. Since your phone or tablet’s screen is a lot smaller than your computers screen, what might look good on a big iMac probably won’t hold up on an iPhone. Responsive design changes the site in real time to adjust to your browser window’s size, so no matter how you’re viewing it, the site is usable and the user’s experience is positive.
There are other factors involved in responsive design, such as technologies supported in browsers that don’t have support in certain mobile operating systems. If you find yourself uncertain about what your site would or wouldn’t support on a mobile device, you probably need a designer who can check your site’s responsiveness and tell you.
Users need it
StatCounter, a popular site for tracking trends in web browsing, released a report that found the use of mobile devices to access the internet has increased 67% in the last year. Nearly 36% of internet users from the last year have done their browsing with their phone or tablet. In other words, the market share of users who require a responsive website is too significant to ignore.
This means that just because your website doesn’t break and is still usable on mobile devices, many of your users will see that your site isn’t responsive. Since most sites they’re also browsing have responsive design, yours will stand out in a way that you don’t want.
Google loves it
In Google’s incredibly useful Developer’s Guide, it actually lists mobile responsiveness as a factor in SEO. This means that if you want your site’s search ranking to increase, it should be responsive. They even provide a handy tool to test just how responsive your site is.
It’s likely this has been a factor in Google rankings for a while, but recently they’ve kicked up the impact. In a statement released recently, Google has revealed that they will tag responsive sites with the “mobile friendly” tag in search results, which means testing responsive design is now part of their indexing process. If this is the case, you can be sure they’re going to favor those sites in their search results.