Have you ever had one of those websites that you have to keep pinching and zooming to use? It’s incredibly frustrating. Thankfully, it’s not as common now as it was but it’s a horrible experience for your users and customers. You want to make sure that your website is designed for mobile users. Test it on phones and tablets and make sure that it actually changes format for those devices. Thankfully, these days, on WordPress it’s not too hard to do that.
When a site changes format to be optimized for the device that’s accessing it, it is said to be responsive. This means that sections change their size, or even disappear, menus will usually collapse into a single button and entry forms will change to allow for using your fingers instead of a mouse. It’s important that your site be responsive. Let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why this is true.
1. Your users are on mobile.
Your users are on mobile devices, usually phones. Over half of them are accessing the web that way. Some sectors are even more than that. Pretending that your site is a desktop site is risky. Meet your audience where they are and in a way that works for them. If your site isn’t responsive, your audience will have to pinch and zoom to be able to see the site and they’ll quickly lose interest in that. The better the experience for your users, the more likely that you will keep them on your site.
The other important aspect here, too is that a truly responsive site isn’t designed to meet the needs of certain devices. It’s designed to meet the needs of the screen size. The reason this distinction is important is that whether you are using a phone, small tablet, big tablet, or just a browser window shrunk down on the screen, your audience gets a predictable experience. To test this, at least visually, take your site on your computer and use a full-size browser window. Then, slowly shrink the screen from the side and watch what happens to the site. You’ll see it go through the different screen sizes, it almost looks like it’s morphing.
2. Social Media Will Improve Your Mobile Device Visits
According to Statista over 98% of Facebook visitors are on mobile devices of some sort. If you are leveraging any sort of social media strategy, this will hopefully drive users from sites like Facebook to your site. If they’re already using Facebook on a mobile device then that’s the device they’ll be using when they are sent to your site. Any remotely successful social media strategy is going to bring mobile users to your site and you want to make them feel welcome when they get there.
3. A Responsive Site Will Improve (or at least not hurt) Your Google Search Rankings
Google has made a concerted effort to take a mobile-first view of the world. Their bots now troll the internet looking for content as if they were a phone or other mobile device. If they find content that isn’t formatted correctly, they will penalize the site. This is where having a truly responsive theme can make a huge difference. If you go to this site, you can test how Google’s bots view your site. Regardless of how the site looks, if your theme isn’t coded correctly, Google will still penalize it. For example, we had a site on one theme (we won’t share the theme to protect the guilty) and it scored very poorly. The same site with a new theme (and cleaned up a bit) and it scored very well. The first theme looked just fine on mobile, but not to Google.
4. Support Then and Now – More Cheaply
Who knows what is going to happen with future devices? Who would have thought we’d have these super connected devices in our pocket? Perhaps we’ll see folding screens…oh wait, or maybe watches…that too? Seriously, there are all sorts of current and future devices. With a truly responsive site, it will adapt to the various screens and you won’t have to do much if anything. It’s cheaper to support and you can focus on your content and sales without having to reformat your site.
It used to be that developers had to build multiple sites, usually two. They would build one for desktop and one for mobile devices. With a responsive design, it adapts itself and you don’t need to design, code, test and fix multiple sites. One site can do all of it. It’s a cheaper and more consistent experience.
5. It loads faster
With a responsive design, you can typically get load times down more. This has two benefits. The first is that most of us don’t like slow sites and we will just leave because we get frustrated. We’ve probably all done it. A site that loads faster is a better experience, overall.
Google knows this too and that’s why they penalize a site in the search rankings if it’s too slow. They are always measuring your site’s speed when they crawl it and that plays a role in where it shows up in search rankings. If you want to see how Google ranks your site for speed, you can see it here and some recommendations to fix it.
A responsive site these days is a price of entry into the online world. It’s not really an option anymore. This is why you want to be careful about the theme you pick. Test it out, change the screen size, look at your site on different devices. Most good themes these days should take care of responsiveness for you for the most part. You might need to configure a few things, but overall, they should work pretty well no matter the device. If not, start looking for different themes.
It’s not always about the theme (though it often is). Occasionally, it’s about plug-ins and other content generators on your site, so make sure to track the problem down if it seems to be a specific page or area of your site.