A few years ago all you needed was a website, a one-size-fits-all home on the web for your business.
But as internet technology evolved so did the demands of the modern web user. Today’s websites need to be responsive, but what makes a website responsive and why is this so important for a small business owner?
Responsive design is simply a website design which can adapt to different screen sizes. It is important for businesses which want to be found because you can design and build your website one time, and you customers get an equally good experience whether they access it on a mobile phone, a laptop, or something in between like an iPad.
This new design concept arose with the rise of mobile smartphones and tablets. It started to become difficult to predict what kind of device people would use to access a website. Larger businesses started experimenting with this idea first and now it has become mainstream. If you'd like an example, look at yellowpages.com.au on your smartphone and on your laptop - these are the same site using responsive design.
Responsive design is also Google friendly
Businesses whose customers find them on Google should also consider a mobile website. Google has updated its search algorithms to give preference to mobile optimised websites when people search on their mobile phones. Once your website is optimised for mobile or tablet devices, you will start climbing up the search rankings, and your required bids to show up in search ads (the sponsored links at the top of the page) will start to reduce.
The most important reason to thinking about a mobile site is your customers. If people are looking for you on their phone, you want to make sure they can easily see and dial your phone number, and that they can easily get the information they need about your business.
Think about it from a customer’s point of view. A potential customer is waiting for a train, browsing for a pair of jeans, when Google throws up a result for your retail outlet. They click the link but the page takes a frustratingly long time to load, and when it does the layout is all wrong. Worse still, the ‘add to basket’ function does not work? Chances are you have just lost a sale.
Did you know that a mobile site can include a link to your phone number so that customers can dial direct from the webpage?
If you are trying to help people get into store, you can also connect your address directly to the mapping application each customer has set as a default on their phone.
There are many web designers who now specialise in responsive design. If you are searching for a designer, make sure to ask about how to make the site responsive site when you interview prospective suppliers.
Many theme-based software packages also include themes specifically created using responsive design, so if you like to do it yourself, look for this feature.
And one final thought. If you have a website, put yourself in a customer’s shoes. Have a look at your own website on your mobile phone. Is it a satisfying experience?