The importance of responsive web design

The importance of responsive web design

It’s been over two years since Google announced its new positioning criteria, as part of an improved search algorithm. Many other changes have affected the search engine in that time, but the April 21st (2015) update was revolutionary for the internet, just because it was the first one to consider the responsive attribute of the content shown.

¿What is this about?

Something that most regular internet users now take for granted; an adjustment, adaptation or re-arrangement of web content (such as this, of course) for every screen size, from big Personal Computers and laptops to smaller devices such as tablets and smartphones. A few years ago, nobody even thought about this issue, because smartphones were slower and unprepared for web search, while tablets were something as rare as an smartwatch is now (which is not quite true, but its full potential is yet to be discovered), or even the innovative smart glasses.

The internet leader realized then that people were using the phone browser more than the classic desktop one, even in their homes, and that web content needed to adapt to new technologies and progress. So, the first thing to do was giving priority to pages and businesses that agreed with that. And, because of the impact that Google and its decisions had and are still having on the information world, this usually included most of the businesses that wanted to succeed.

A new reality, the responsive one

Of course, that year was at first full of speculation about the real meaning of this. Because most web sites were not mobile-friendly, it was a general concern to decide if they needed a quick content check or a full-scale re-designed, or even new, web page, which was obviously more expensive. Now it doesn’t seem to matter, as more and more businesses are going online and they need to adapt to the new rules.

Every SEO or positioning expert would tell you that if your web site falls to the second Google search page, it’s like it didn’t exist. Naturally, most of the clicks go to the first page (90-95% according to Google in 2015). If you then consider that huge portion of the market that is interested in your brand but won’t find it outside a search engine (usually middle-aged to senior users, but also people who is not interested in any internet affairs), your fall could be catastrophic for business.

If it’s a non-profit kind of web page what we’re talking about, then it’s still hard to find and uncomfortable to read and navigate. A desktop mode of view in a smaller screen doesn’t only mean the constant use of zoom, but it’s also difficult to manage, as it’s not prepared for the multi-touch interface that is usually involved. Common issues like overlapped blocks and unintentionally clicked buttons are still found nowadays.

¿How do we solve this now?

The best way to eliminate the problem is not having the problem in the first place. Now that we know what we’re dealing with, we can ask for a responsive design, the moment we need a brand new site. A web master or web designer that doesn’t offer this service is obviously not to be trusted, because that usually means he’s working according to many other old standards that Google won’t like, and besides, it will probably slow down your site too. So clearly, responsive design has evolved from a simple paint job to another essential brick for your web site, which can potentially prove to be the foundations of a successful business.

The price is the only disadvantage

Although many people hated Google on 2015, now we can’t imagine a non-responsive digital world. We couldn’t bear the need of waiting to get home to look up the information we needed hours ago. So the advantages of a responsive design from scratch are not all related to this new searching reality:

  • User-friendly environment, which can make your visitor want to stay longer, since there is a simple and more comfortable design for every screen size (even for every kind of desktop computers), with all the same information and characteristics.
  • Faster load, which could be included in the previous point, but it’s specially meaningful when the design is implemented from scratch. Redirections and extra code for a responsive alternative actually slows down the site, but now, combining HTML5 with CSS3 it’s possible to build a single version (no redirections) of a perfectly adaptable site, with a minimal need of JavaScript and extra lines of code. No one wants to wait more than a few seconds to load a web page in a smartphone (and that’s just with a slow internet connection).
  • Simpler future modifications, as there may be needed further changes in the code to adapt to new rules, and it’s obviously more complicated and expensive to do in a complex code.
  • Of course, easier SEO, specially for smartphones and tablets positioning. Further SEO must be done based on this important rule for indexing; otherwise it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to bring your web site to the first page.

As a conclusion, let’s remember that SEO is almost an art, and one in constant change. Even if you make sure that your site is responsive (test Here), there’s a long way to the top yet, and the next step is probably the content. But it’s a good start, because we can’t know when the rules are going to change again, and we need to be prepared for that.