Sink or Swim? 4 Reasons Why Responsive Design Will Make the Difference in 2014

January 11, 2014

With 2014 upon us, you’re probably trying to think of ways to turn those goals you set at the end of last year into reality. Increasing readership and revenue are probably at the top of the list. It’s all about getting readers to your site and keeping them there. But first thing’s first: if you aren’t reaching mobile and tablet readers with responsive design, you’re already missing opportunities.

Responsive Design

There’s been a lot of talk about responsive design, so let’s review what it really means:

Responsive design is essentially a way to develop your website so that your content is rendered effectively in multiple display sizes—whether it’s being accessed via desktop, tablet, smartphone or other devices.

You’ve likely tried to view a non-responsive website on your smartphone or tablet before: even headlines are extremely difficult to read, you’ve lost your place zooming in and out and most importantly, you likely abandoned the site for another option that’s easier to read.  With the dramatic increase in mobile use in the past year, responsive design has become a business imperative.

Why Responsive Design?

1)  Competitive Advantage

There is no question that mobile usage is on the rise and that online businesses that cater to smartphone and tablet users benefit more than those who do not.

At the end of 2012, Pete Cashmore, of Mashable, predicted that 2013 would be the year of responsive web design. He cited several predictors in the market including:

  • PC sales were projected to be lower than the previous year for the first time since 2001.
  • Tablet sales were expected to exceed 100 million.
  • The majority of mobile phone subscribers owned smartphones
  • 60% of tablet users preferred reading news on the mobile web more than on an app.

2013 may not have turned the online world entirely to mobile, but it certainly headed that way and we are still trending in that direction. That means that you still have time.

Start by looking at your own data. Google Analytics lets you view where your traffic is coming from, so you can get a clear picture of how much of your audience is accessing your site via mobile device. And, you can compare it from month to month, to see how much it is increasing.

Even if your numbers are relatively low, rest assured that they will increase. Some of the latest estimates predict that 5 billion people will use mobile phones before 2017.  It’s likely that your competitors aren’t ignoring these numbers.

2)  Cost Effectiveness

Responsive design simplifies your SEO, Marketing, Analytics and Strategy—compared to creating and managing separate mobile sites. Mobile sites require added resources, including separate optimization, which adds costs and time unnecessarily.

With responsive design, everything is managed from one place and maintenance steps are minimized - the same kind of value you get from an Enterprise Publishing System. You aren’t building and operating an entirely separate site to deliver the same information.

3)  Search Rankings

It took some time, but Google has incorporated mobile and smartphone use into its search rankings formula AND they recommend responsive design to maximize your rankings. Why, you might ask? Well, for starters, it will:

“Improve the mobile web, make your users happy, and allow searchers to experience your content fully.”

Essentially, if you don’t go responsive, it will hurt your search engine rankings. It’s just another way to complement your SEO strategy and stay top of mind (or on top of the list, so to speak).

4)  Conversion Rates

Getting readers to your site is half the battle, but keeping them there makes all the difference when it comes to sales and subscription conversions. Remember how we talked about visiting and quickly leaving a mobile site that is difficult to navigate and read?

At its core, responsive design is about creating a seamless experience across devices. You want your readers to have a fantastic experience whether they are at a desk or in the airport. You want them to be able to find you on their desktop and revisit you on their smartphone, so you can be in front of them whenever they want you to be.

And you can use your analytics and audience data to determine how readers interact with your design, so that you can optimize further and guarantee greater conversion rates.

As you’re making your plans for this year, remember that you want to maximize the ROI of all your efforts. Start by maximizing your audience availability. Go responsive.