Update: Mobile-friendliness added as a ranking signal

Starting April 21st, Google will add mobile-friendliness as a factor in its ranking algorithm. Test out your URL using their mobile friendliness test to see if your page meets the new requirements, and keep reading for help adjusting your site.

Every year mobile traffic is growing. This year 41.2% of all cyber monday traffic came from mobile. It’s a trend that every business should start to plan, and develop for.

Options for Mobile Optimized Experiences

Based on figures provided by the mobile experts at Flurry, app usage is increasing while mobile web surfing is decreasing. With the growing trend of using apps over web browsing on mobile devices, it is a good idea to consider developing an app. However, developing your own app is usually very time consuming and expensive. For many companies, developing their own mobile app is simply not an option.

As an alternative, responsive web design is much less expensive to develop and easy to maintain. When deciding on which to use, consider your customer demographics and the type of product or service that you’re providing. Do you have analytic data that tells you how much mobile traffic you have so far? How many of your customers do you think will benefit from one of these options?

According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, responsive design websites showed a 10.9% increase in visitor to buyer conversion rates year-over-year, while non-responsive websites only had a 2.7% increase. So if you’re not ready to invest in developing a full-blown mobile app, the evidence supports responsive web design as a cost effective alternative to a mobile app.

What is Responsive Design?

For a quick example, click and drag your browser window from full size to very small. You will notice how this website changes based upon the screen size the viewer is using. The goal of responsive web design is to give the customer an experience that is quick and easy to use on whatever size device he or she is using.

Responsive design is a combination of three techniques: fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries. Here is an excellent video tutorial to learn the fundamentals of responsive design:

Responsive Design and Web Performance

During this video tutorial, the presenter mentions that the images in his test site are fairly large, which allows them to be responsive, but being responsive is not enough. If you really want to cater to your mobile audience, you also need to improve performance by considering the impact quality and file size have. Smashing Magazine has a wonderful article to help guide you in making your site both responsive and a great performer over mobile broadband.

Test Your Site

To see how responsive your site is currently, you can visit Matt Kersley’s page.

Or for a more detailed option in testing responsive design, you can use the developer tools in most browsers. This allows you to change the viewing experience so you can select one of many brand name devices, like an iPhone 6 or Galaxy S4, to emulate. To do this in Chrome, you can open your developer tools by right-clicking a page and choosing “inspect element”. Then look to the top left of the tools window for a small icon that looks like a smartphone. Click the icon and the browser view will constrain the viewing area.

This developer tool also shows how easy it is to load test your mobile site using LoadStorm PRO. A recording can be made of the site while using the mobile view, which can then be uploaded and utilized in a load test.

Sidenote for SEO:

 Google prefers that developers use responsive design mostly for requiring less resources and is future friendly. However, Google does not rank responsive design higher over other configurations.

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