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The Case for Responsive Design

Scott Thomas - Thursday, June 11, 2015

For some Alaskan businesses, the hype and news surrounding the Google Mobile Algorithm update and the fear of a pending Mobilegeddon may have caught them by surprise. While some organizations have already made the change to responsive web design, we know of many other sites functioning pretty well without any mobile friendly pages. In response to some recent conversations we've had with clients, here is a basic guide outlining why your business should consider making the change to a responsively designed website.

What is Responsive Design?

 From the all-knowing Wikipedia:

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

1) Think About the User First.

Providing the answer to a question, or the product or service a person is looking for should be your organization's first priority. Many people in the U.S. are connected to the internet constantly, and moving between devices. If your site is not mobile friendly, and your competitors' sites are responsive, you are likely missing out on leads and customers. Can someone find your business on a mobile device and complete the conversion action(s) you are aiming for? Can your business afford to ignore 10% of your website visitors? 20%? 30%?

2) Searches on Mobile Devices have Exceeded Desktop Search.

Earlier this year, Google acknowledged that the volume of search queries on mobile devices exceed those on desktops in 10 countries, including the U.S.  You have probably noticed significant growth in mobile traffic -and while for some sites -that percentage may be 20% or less of your total website sessions (visits), not many business can choose to ignore or give mobile users a poor experience. A recent study by Nielsen noted that US adults spend more time on the Internet via Smart Phones.

3) Responsive Design is Preferred by Google (and better for SEO).

Since 2012, Google has recommended that websites use responsive design. While it's still a viable option for websites that use separate desktop and mobile sites, choosing such a set-up requires extra web development and content maintenance, as well careful SEO settings to highlight the two separate sites properly.

4) Flexible Formats that Adapt to the Device.

Responsively designed websites are fluid, and adapt the size of the screen. The templates used in responsive design are based upon screen size, not device. If a new technology is developed (or a new screen size) and the existing responsive templates don't work with the new device, one could update the templates for the new device(s).

5) Social Media: It's a Mobile First World.

The majority of social media consumption and sharing occurs on a mobile device. If one is attempting to share website content that isn't mobile-friendly, that will decrease the likelihood of your content being shared. Active social media campaigns can help bring in more mobile traffic, and get your website liked or shared on social media channels.

A Case Study: Denali Zipline Tours

Denali Zipline Tours This spring, we helped Denali Zipline Tours launch a responsive website. Previously, Denali Zipline Tours' site was a non-responsive site without any mobile friendly pages. Their site takes online reservations for their Zipline tours, so we can compare user engagement metrics and online ecommerce revenue for the first 90 days with a responsive design.

Comparing year over year data for this 90 day period, the Denali Zipline Tours website saw the following improvements from their mobile users:

  • 20% Reduction in Bounce Rate
  • Average Pages per Session Doubled
  • 28% Increase in Online Reservations
  • 114% Increase in Revenue

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