If you’re used to doing most of your business at your desk or on a laptop, you may have missed a significant shift among your website’s users. By the start of 2018, more than half of a typical website’s audience were already surfing the web using smartphones or tablets.
That number’s only going up. So why are you still evaluating your company’s web designs only on desktop viewports?
For most of our clients, it’s not laziness or a lack of empathy. It’s usually just a bias formed by the devices in use every day at a company—and those rarely match the devices that their customers use to visit their websites.
We’ve found three specific reasons to audit your website across a variety of device sizes and viewport widths. First, a mobile responsive layout ensures that your website can be accessed and used by the widest possible audience. Second, it helps to improve your search engine ranking. And finally, it makes for a better user experience overall, leading to stronger end results.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.
Ensuring a great experience on any device
As more and more people use their mobile devices to go online, you want to make sure that they can access your website, no matter what device they’re using. A mobile responsive layout automatically adjusts the size and layout of your website to fit whatever screen it’s being viewed on. This means that whether someone is looking at your site on their phone, tablet, or laptop, they’ll be able to see it clearly and navigate it easily.
If you’re thinking that this is just a cosmetic concern, user experience experts have some bad news for you. When your website “looks broken,” it erodes trust among your target audience. When online shoppers experience anxiety over whether your site will work properly, they’re less likely to click the “buy” button. If you’re running a media, public relations, or messaging website, a layout that doesn’t load well on your audience’s preferred device can tarnish your reputation.
Avoiding search engine penalties
You’re not just getting judged by your human viewers. Search engines like Google and Bing have started to measure mobile responsiveness as a “quality signal” when ranking potential search results. You could have a database of authoritative content on your website, but if your pages load slowly over mobile connections or if your mobile layouts don’t highlight the answer to a user’s question, you’ll get downranked.
Keep in mind that elements that don’t take up a lot of space on desktop layouts — especially cookie banners, floating ads, or promotional messages — can chew through a surprising amount of real estate on mobile. If the “next action” you want your users to take is buried under a stack of items that Google thinks are distractions, your website will fall off the first page of their results—no matter how much you’ve optimized your copy.
Equity drives results
When your mobile responsive layout leads to a better user experience overall, you’re embracing equity among your end users. Whether or not equity is one of your company’s core values, something powerful happens when you reduce the barriers to reaching your content or engaging with your services. (This is even more important when considering assistive devices and other accessibility tools as essential for ensuring access to your business.)
It shouldn’t matter whether your end user is viewing your website from the latest, most expensive iPhone or a cheap Android tablet. Even if you can justify targeting your most affluent users, remember that doing so puts you at risk of reputational damage in the press and on social media. It’s so much less expensive to do what’s right from the outset than to clean up a mess of negative perception later.
You don’t have to start from scratch
Creating a mobile responsive layout for your website is important for several reasons: user experience, search engine ranking, and user equity. You may not even need a total design overhaul to achieve these results.
Our User Experience Express Audits can reveal exactly where you’re doing fine and where you should focus your attention. Get on our calendar for a complimentary discovery session, so we can help you find the right path to make sure every user gets a great experience on your website.