Responsively designed web sites are fluid, meaning the content, and it's framework move and adapt freely across nearly all screen resolutions and devices. Just as for example, a serving of your favorite carbonated beverage spreads out or draws in to match the form of its vessle, while remaining the same; responsive design allows its content to fill an allotted space and retain its appearance, wether it be on a Smartphone, Tablet or Desktop Device.
While, content is king and the discover-ability of content the foremost success metric, it is the user experience that enables visitors to consume or access content on any website through the device of their choice and preference at anytime. Thus, responsive web design is about providing the optimal user experience; irrespective of whether they use a desktop computer, a smart phone, a tablet or a smart-TV. Responsive web design accommodates the busy professional during the day, the casual browser on an evening and the wide-awake student, or the nursing parent up late at night, needing access to your site anytime. No excessive or unnecessary scrolling or resizing is needed for any visitor to access your website from their favorite device.
The advantages of having a single site that covers the requirements of most if not all devices are significant when compared to having two or more separate websites. Generally one website costs less than two, and as such the savings can be substantial. Sites designed solely for mobile device traffic rarely offer the navigational techniques found in traditional websites, and they also require the user to use two separate web addresses for your site. This is not only inconvenient for most people but can be confusing as well and this in turn can cause them to check out the competition’s website(s). Responsive web design enhances SEO efforts by having all your visitors directed to a single site no matter what they prefer to use as a device.
With 67 percent search market share, when Google speaks, search marketers listen. Google states that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and even goes so far as to refer to responsive web design as the industry best practice.
This is because responsively designed sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content. Contrast this with a separate mobile site which has a different URL and different HTML than its desktop counterpart, requiring Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site.
Additionally, Google prefers responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site. Take for example a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on Facebook who then accesses that content using a desktop, which results in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. This creates a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is now placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is essential to take into account with regards to SEO.
Having separate desktop and mobile sites requires having separate SEO campaigns. Managing one site and one SEO campaign is far easier than managing two sites and two SEO campaigns. This is a key advantage a responsive website has over a separate mobile site. That being said, there are benefits in highly specific situations, to having a mobile-specific SEO strategy, such as optimising for keywords that are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smart phone. For example, someone performing a mobile search for a local restaurant may be more inclined to use the word “nearby” in their search query. However, a separate mobile site is not a requirement for a mobile SEO strategy, and there’s no reason why mobile-specific keywords can’t be incorporated into a responsively designed site as well. At the end it is your decision, whether you take it or not.
A consistent user experience will have a positive impact on your conversion rates as people are familiar with the navigation and site or system used across different devices. Responsive design removes some of the barriers that having multiple sites can present, for example in functionality, performance and consistent look and feel.
Site analytics tools like Google Analytics are now optimised to handle multiple devices and responsive reporting. All tracking and analytics will continue to function and be condensed into a single report, allowing for easier monitoring and analysis.
With all the relevant files in one place it's much easier and less time consuming to manage and maintain a single site, with over all, much less content to manage and keep up to date in comparison to traditional sites. This being the case, means less time charged to you or indeed your business.
With tablet sales and smartphone device use forever on the rise, responsive design is key to keeping up with, if not ahead of your competition and keeping market share; content consumption on mobile devices is only going to continue as technology advances and allows.
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