Guest post by Ilana Rosenblum Guttman
One of the latest buzzwords in website design is sites that are “responsive.” But what does that mean? Well, a responsive site is one that responds to the size of the browser that you are using.
Why does this matter to you?
You want your website visitors to have the best experience possible, and if they want to do something like share a blog post and the Share button is tiny, they will be frustrated and may not do it! With mobile users grabbing an ever-growing share of visitors to most websites, their needs cannot be ignored.
While many websites these days are developed with a mobile version (often a pared-down design optimized for viewing on narrow, small screens), responsive design takes the adjustment to a whole new level. It moves the elements on the screen to best accommodate the browser window, no matter what its size is, from large, wide desktop screens, to tablet devices, to mobile phones.
But unless your website is very minimalist, you cannot make it responsive by merely rearranging the existing elements. It usually requires a thorough redesign of the website, and an assessment of how each element works.
How will upgrading to a responsive website impact SEO?
Google’s algorithms are smart enough to determine what is best for the user. If a mobile website loads faster than a responsive one, Google is likely to rank the faster site higher, since load time is a significant factor.
This is because not only do mobile and tablet devices have different sized screens that desktops, but they are also typically used for different purposes. Consider the following example of a user on a restaurant website. Someone browsing it from their desktop is more likely to be doing research about available options for dinner later that evening. However, a user browsing from their mobile device is likely to be looking for a place to order from immediately, a number to call, or driving directions, rather than doing research on several restaurant options.
So, You Still Might Stick With Older Technology After All
Even given all of the advantages of a responsive design, you still might be better off with just a regular and mobile design. Why?
The main advantage of a mobile version of a website, which is much older technology than responsive, is that it allows for features unique to mobile devices. For example, mobile sites can incorporate buttons that bring up the keypad to dial a contact number and initiate a call, scroll navigation, and location-based services. Responsive sites, on the other hand, cannot decipher these functions.
Finally, responsive design is often complicated, and it takes a seasoned professional to execute it well.
Responsive Design and Your WordPress Website
If you are using WordPress and you decide that responsive is the way to go, then choosing a responsive design template from a trusted theme developer will take care of most of the difficult coding legwork for you, but you will still need to consider your users’ needs on each device and plan your content accordingly.
Ilana Rosenblum Guttman is the manager of IRG Websites, providing website development and maintenance services to forward-thinking small businesses in Israel and around the world.