There was a point in time when responsive design was considered a luxury. It was something extra a company might consider during development or redesign that would in the very least, boost the ‘cool quotient.’ But, if the cost for development was prohibitive, it was one of the first things cut from the project plan.
I’m sure I’ll get little opposition when I say those days are long past.
After all, more people are connecting to the Internet on mobile devices than ever before. While that statement is not only obvious, but practically downright silly (considering nearly every single person you know is staring at a phone when you’re trying to talk to them), it is true.
CNN reported that mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States in January of this year. People are accessing content on the Internet definitely. And, that means designers need to be changing how they design content platforms. Especially following the release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in August 2013.
Hummingbird is a direct response to people’s increased usage of mobile devices. Previous search algorithms, focusing on each individual word in the search query, became obsolete as users began interacting with search engines differently. Instead of typing keywords into a computer screen, people began typing sentences, almost as if they were texting Google. Then, with the advent of Siri and other voice recognition software, people started talking to Google.
While Hummingbird considers each word individually, like previous algorithm iterations, it also examines the whole sentence or conversational meaning. In the long-run, this will yield better search engine results and, as content managers evolve to meet Hummingbird head-on from an SEO standpoint, a better Internet.
However, the point I am making with all of this about Hummingbird is, even Google saw in necessary to respond to the fact Americans are now using mobile devices for Web searches more than desktop computers.
Small screens and slower load times force efficient and affective content, which requires stripping away the excess that exists on traditional websites. Plus, mobile users are typically impatient and busy. They don’t want to read instructions and excessive details on their phones. They want to find what they want, scan a review and buy it. They want content that is easily perused and can be read in short bursts.
Responsive design not only ensures content is delivered in a mobile-device friendly format, but should also anticipate and answer the user’s needs. Current generation phones and tablets, with the latest advancements in GPS technology, cameras and video, provide unlimited opportunities for marketers to present their products and services in innovative ways.
More importantly—without a mobile-friendly website, your future online is only getting bleaker. Customers will bounce and head off to a competitor’s site that is easier to use. It’s no longer cool to have responsive design. It’s absolutely necessary.
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Here’s a couple useful infographics from Google that show the increase in mobile usage and browsing (click to see larger versions):