Tips for a Stellar Responsive Design
Google recently announced an important update to the way it ranks websites. This massive update centers around one main criteria: is the website responsive on mobile devices?
A website that is responsive is a website that expands or contracts to fit the size of the device that it is being displayed on. This means that your website will change in size across various devices including smartphones, tablets and desktops, providing a unified experience for the user.
Over the last five years, the expansion and technological advancement of web browsers has shifted user expectations dramatically; people now presume they should be able to do anything on their mobile devices that they can do on their desktop computer.
MEETING RESPONSIVE DESIGN DEMANDS
Initially the web design and development community stepped up to meet the demands presented by these new operating systems and browsers by building mobile versions of their websites. In the beginning, it was a reasonable response; however, every website had to have a normal desktop version and a secondary mobile version.
While this approach was acceptable when mobile options were minimal, technology keeps moving forward; today, we now have touchscreen tablets, smartphones with varying screen sizes, laptops, and “wearable technology.” Small screens aren’t all that need concern us, however. Big, high-resolution displays and “smart televisions” that can access the Internet are becoming more widely used, as well.
Essentially, the range of screen sizes and resolutions is growing every day, and creating a different version of a website that suits each individual device is not a practical way of working.
This is the problem that responsive web design addresses.
Take the Spectoos widget, for example. We wanted to make certain that we provide each and every client with a testimonial faceboard that can be easily seen by their users from any device. We also wanted to offer our clients a widget that fits the responsiveness of their websites, and so, to overcome these challenges, we created the Spectoos testimonial widget in a way that it would be completely responsive on various desktop and laptop screen sizes, tablets, and mobile devices.
GOOGLE’S RECENT UPDATE CAUGHT YOU BY SURPRISE?
Is your website ready for Google? You can easily determine whether or not your website is responsive by usingGoogle’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool.
Google will crawl every page of your site, but the good news is that the algorithm does not apply to the entire site, but rather page-by-page. That’s great news for those who are not ready, because it means that as individual pages become mobile ready, they can begin to benefit from the SEO boost that is offered by the update.
GIVE YOUR SITE A MAKEOVER
If your site is not ready, and you can’t do a complete overhaul just yet, start by focusing on your homepage, as well as the other most commonly visited pages of your site. If you can do a complete site renovation, however, you should look at this Google update as an opportunity to revamp your website. Responsive design started to become standard practice in 2012, so it is probably time for an update anyway.
There are many affordable options for updating your website, regardless of what you’re starting out with.
RESPONSIVE SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR CMS
If your old website was built on a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, and created with a template, there may be a simple theme update that you need to implement, and Voilà.
If your old website was built on HTML and is not responsive, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to build a new site on a CMS. As a side note, I recommend doing this because content has also become a major factor in the search engine’s criteria for ranking. Thus, you need a website that allows you to easily update your content on a regular basis.
Creating content is the most work intensive and time-consuming aspect of building a new website. Since you already have the content on your old HTML site, it is a simple matter of transferring it over to the new site.
STARTING OVER FROM SCRATCH?
If you plan to let go of your old site, creating a new website that will reside on a CMS is often easy given the number of templates that are now widely available for any given system; the good news is that the majority of templates are created to automatically be responsive.
If you plan to build a custom template that will reside on a CMS, again, most of today’s developers will code the site to be responsive; if your developer will not or cannot do this, you need to find someone else whose skill set is more up to speed with current best practices.
Originally posted on the Spectoos blog on June 23, 2015.