8 Steps to Making Responsive Web Design Work
The use of mobile devices to surf the Web is growing at an astronomical pace, but much of the Web isn’t using response design, which adjusts the presentation of a website automatically, depending on the device on which it’s being viewed.
“Google’s Hummingbird algorithm makes responsive design vital for search engine optimization,” says Eugene Revzin, director of design and development at Perfect Search Media, a firm that provides internet marketing services. “Since the new ranking system favors mobile-friendly websites and takes site usability into account, responsive sites are best suited to rank highly on both desktop and mobile searches.”
Here are seven ways to make your site respond dynamically to those visitors using smartphones and tablets.
1. Streamline your content strategy
“Streamline your content to the bare minimum needed to effectively convey your message,” Revzin says. “This is vital on mobile devices, where real estate is limited, but will also make your desktop version more effective. Use blog posts for your long-form content, but keep the site trim so those visitors who are interested in reading that detailed content can find it easily.”
2. Be a minimalist
Web surfers are a finicky lot, especially when they are on a mobile device. Loading times that exceed one second have significant impacts on your visitor’s attention span, satisfaction, and, ultimately, conversion rates.
If you want to attract customers, “keep the design simple and the features minimal,” says Revzin. “Slow loading pages can lose you far more visitors than fancy features would attract. Evaluate every feature and piece of content to determine whether the value provided is worth the expense of a slower loading page.”
3. Think mobile first
A mobile design should not just be a stripped-down version of a desktop site. Instead, you should prioritize functions and information to organize the mobile view more efficiently. But for all the talk of streamlining content and features, here’s something to keep in mind: 54 percent of people believe mobile-optimized websites don’t provide enough content, according to a survey by software firm Exact Target. While less is generally more when it comes to mobile websites, offering too little leaves visitors frustrated and unsatisfied.
4. Take care with videos
The visual age can wreak havoc on responsive design.“Make sure that embedded videos resize sensibly—YouTube’s default embed code isn’t responsive, which means embedded videos can often break the responsive design if they aren’t placed within a specifically designed [area] that caters to them,” says Farhad Divecha, managing director of AccuraCast, a digital marketing agency. Along the same lines, don’t use large or high-resolution images by default—it can make the site irritatingly slow and expensive to load over a data connection.
5. Make your site seem faster
There are tricks to making your mobile site appear faster to customers than it really is. Load priority content first and late load (“lazy load”) content below it to create the perception of faster performance, rather than waiting to display content after everything is loaded. A Nielsen-Norman Group eyeball tracking study found that if you serve feature content within a second of the page loading, people will spend 20 percent of their time in that area. If you make people wait eight seconds for content, they only give the important information a one-second skim.
6. Get Google’s opinion
You don’t have to guess if the search engine giant thinks your site is mobile friendly. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to find out issues.
7. Remember the user experience
Remember that a mobile device isn’t looking at your mobile website—a person is. Make sure your site is easy to view and use on tiny screens by thinking of the customer journey and user experience in your small business Web design. “Ensure that links and call-to-action buttons are sized bigger than on the desktop site, so that they are touch friendly,” Divecha says. “Reduce form fields where possible, and pre-fill information, (e.g., country) where you can.” Avoid scrolling sideways—keep vertical scrolling only as far as possible.
8. Give your customers choices
Don’t assume every mobile user is the same—or wants the same information. Your local mobile marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation. “Make a desktop version available for users to view, even if they are on a mobile site,” Divecha says. “Don’t try to force users to an app when they’re trying to visit your site.”
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