It’s time to go mobile, business owners. In 2013, we started to see companies encroaching on the mobile market and developing a new kind of website – not just a mobile version that spelled out your company’s URL with an “m” before the web address, but a responsive website. As more varieties of mobile devices are invented (tablets, laptops, smartphones), there is a growing need for a single website that will function and respond flawlessly on all devices, hence, a responsive site. Those quick to catch on soon realized if they wanted to beat out the competition, investing in a responsive website for their business early on would give them a leg-up that would last. And they were right!
Will Consumers find your business or your competitors’?
In May 2014, Google discovered that local searches led 50% of mobile users to actually visit stores. In fact, 1 in 3 searches on a smartphone occur just before consumers visit a store and half of consumers who performed a local search on their smartphone will visit a store within 1 day. Google already knows that businesses that list local content are favored in mobile searches, so it’s important your company’s website can be uniformly viewed on whatever device your customers are using. What’s more is that 4 out of 5 consumers perform local searches on search engines, with 88% using smartphones and 84% searching on tablets and laptops. Specifically, these mobile searchers want to know when your local business is open, where you are located, how to get there, and the availability of products. If this information is not quickly found on your company’s mobile website, it’s time to upgrade to a responsive design that clearly reflects these basics. Otherwise, you might be left out of the competition as this trend will only grow in 2015.
While rooting out which website trends are most popular for 2014, the movement toward a mobile responsive website nears the top of the list yet again and is expected to grow in the years to come. Currently, there are over a billion smartphone users worldwide and counting, so companies that fail to tap into this marketing mecca are declining into a serious disadvantage. Google Analytics is a great way to gauge how urgent your need is for a responsive design by helping you track how much of your site’s traffic is currently coming from mobile sources.
Don’t substitute social media as your company’s website
Think posting all your business info on Facebook is enough? Sadly, what companies don’t realize is mobile users are searching for you by name, product or service, and if you don’t show up in local search results, then you have missed out on sales. That’s why it’s so crucial for your company to have its own space online, especially one that is responsive. This rule is especially true for companies that are in the retail or food business. Because many decisions about where to eat or where to shop are made impulsively and based upon a consumer’s mobile search result, you want to be certain your business website shows up as a mini virtual version of your store.
Social media has gone mobile. More than half of social media usage is through a mobile device. So, if you’re posting business content on a social media platform to lead customers back to you, be sure to have a responsive website so all the content will be viewed nicely and function properly on a mobile device. Otherwise, users will leave unhappy and your conversion will suffer. Having a responsive website will also give customers an easier way to contact you for comments or complaints, making it less likely they will plaster it all over social media.
Is Responsive Design Really Worth The Cost?
The truth is, making a website responsive is about as costly as making a conventional site, but in doing so, there are many costs you are eliminating. Once a site becomes responsive, the development, marketing and maintenance costs significantly decrease. Responsive design has acknowledged the open future of new devices and will automatically conform to whatever new device your customers use. So, developmentally, you will not have to duplicate your website for mobile, tablet, desktop, etc., saving you on future costs. Responsive design also offers a single code base, so your developers are no longer managing and testing multiple code bases.
Value through responsive design is also received through your company’s marketing costs. By eliminating different versions of your website, the cost of ownership maintenance and effort decreases. Not to mention, there becomes only one website to SEO (which makes Google happy). Google stated it prefers responsive design as the “recommended mobile configuration” because it makes it easier for them to index content online. And we all know if there is anything we can do to please Google, it will boost our search engine ranking.
Google favors user experience and shared with us that 48% of users stated when a website does not function on their mobile device, it makes them feel the company doesn’t care for their business. Business owners need to come to realize more and more of their customer base is coming from the mobile pool and if their website isn’t fully functioning on those devices, they’re missing out on a growing market (but their competitors will thank them!)
So, how much will going responsive cost? It depends, but a better question to ask is how much value will a responsive design bring to your business? There is a unique value that responsive design brings, especially through content driven websites. Going responsive is a great choice especially when you consider they’re no extra cost compared to most other mobile approaches. A few things are certain: you will notice a reduced demand on your time for site maintenance and content management. You will also notice an increase in marketing efficiency and greater opportunities in the mobile channel. And after you’ve made responsive design work for you, you can spend your extra time and money investing in SEO, keeping customer relations, or on family.