Why Being Mobile Responsive is Essential for Business

Jeanette Helen Wilson

Published Thu 21 Jul by Jeanette Helen Wilson in Perfecting Your Website's Design and Marketing More Effectively

More people own a mobile phone than a toothbrush: Here's why being mobile responsive is essential

Did you Know?

  • Over 33% of all adults use their Smartphone within five minutes of waking up?
  • Half of all adults aged 55 to 64 own a Smartphone?
  • Smartphones are the most popular device for getting online? (Ofcom)

For the first time, Smartphones have now overtaken all other forms of electronic device, including laptops and tablets, in popularity. More and more of us own one, an increase of 39% since 2012, and we are spending more and more time on them too! (Guardian 2015)

According to James Thickett, Ofcom Director of Research, 4G and Smartphones are 'the hub of our daily lives' (Ofcom news August 2015). Many of us, especially teenagers and young adults, depend upon them and would feel lost without them.

So what does this mean for you, your business and your online presence?

When it comes to web design, it’s the survival of the fittest. In terms of evolution in the natural world, creatures that adapt well to their changing environment survive and thrive. 

So it is in web design. If you adapt to changes, embrace new trends and tailor your online presence for the needs of your existing and potential customers, you’re more likely to enjoy a prosperous future, both online and offline.

The graphic above illustrates the principle that water finds its own level. Whichever vessel it is placed in, it finds its own equilibrium. This principle applies to responsive web design. 

Like water, it allows content and images to flow into the space each individual device allows, without compromising the navigation, accessibility or enjoyment for the browser. 

This is the aim of responsive web design. It shows you have thought clearly and practically about your customers’ experience when they visit your website. It shows you are putting their needs first, that your online presence has adapted to the devices they use. 

Whether your customers are viewing your website on a widescreen desktop monitor, a laptop, a tablet or a Smartphone, the layout and content of your website responds and adapts to the screen it’s presented on. Like water, it flows. 

Practical Guidance

How to Make Responsive Web Design (RWD) Work for You

Adapt so Your Customers Don’t Have to

Think about your customers; put them first. See the world (and your website) through their eyes. If they are viewing your website on a Smartphone rather than a laptop, they are clearly in a hurry, not browsing in a leisurely way, but wanting to source information quickly and efficiently. 

Thinking about what they might be looking for when they land on your homepage using a Smartphone can mean low bounce rates and more return visits. Which information needs to be clearly accessible straight away? Your opening times, your prices, your contact details... these are all essentials. The rest can wait for a return visit. 

If you present visitors with the essentials without them having to search, scroll, zoom in or out too much, they are more likely to visit you again when they get their tablet or laptop out for a more leisurely browse. But in the meantime, you’re on their positive radar and you’ve given them a means of getting in touch with you easily.

Harness the Power of Video

It’s never been a better time for video online. With the rise and accessibility of 4G, more and more people are watching videos on their Smartphones. 

Before the widespread availability of 4G, viewing videos on Smartphones was a frustrating experience. Lots of buffering and whirring circles. But with 4G, your customers can view a video with ease. So instead of lots of text, which on a Smartphone is harder to read and navigate, consider posting some short video clips to demonstrate your products or services. 

As well as being a great way of conveying information in a more accessible way (especially good for those whose eyesight may prevent them reading text from a small screen), videos introduce you and your business in a more personable way. It has been proven that we humans react positively to a friendly face, especially one that is authentic and approachable. It’s worth adding video to your toolkit.

The Ted Baker website allows you to view a video of a model wearing each item, so you can quickly and easily see how it looks in 3D, how the fabric hangs and moves. This allows the customer to feel closer to the product, and it shows that the web designer has the customers’ needs at the very heart of the planning. 

Calls to Action That are Accessible

It’s easy to overlook the small things, but it is these that can be make or break for your website in terms of responsivity. 

When people are viewing your website on a Smartphone, it is crucial that your calls to action are the optimum size. If they are too small, it will be difficult for someone to click onto it, that is if they see it at all! The temptation may be to make them extra large so that they are visible and clickable. But take care not to oversize them. If they are too large, they may be an obstruction for those trying to scroll down the screen, and they may click onto somewhere else without meaning to. 

This can lead to frustration. To avoid exasperated customers, strike the right balance so that your calls to action are visible, large enough to click on but not so that they obstruct or distract. Some honest feedback in the testing stage can really help you to get this right!

Netflix’s home page call to action works brilliantly. On widescreen view, it is placed on the left, but on Smartphone view, the call to action button is centred. It reaches across the screen, with nothing surrounding it apart from an eye-catching image, so it is easy to click on and follow through. 

Being bright red, it is hard to miss, let alone ignore. And that magic word ‘Free’ is guaranteed to lure people in, especially when prefaced with the promise and reassurance that you can cancel at any time. Perfect for those customers who are reluctant to commit.

Ditch the Temptation of Pop-ups

Pop-up overlays may still be permissable on a laptop or a tablet, as those who wish not to take you up on the offer can easily click on the exit cross and get back to what they were doing. But on a Smartphone this is no mean feat. Remember that those who are viewing your site from a Smartphone are probably on the go. They have a limited window of time in which to engage with your business online. Don’t waste this precious time with pop-ups that can obstruct their aim. 

The bounce-rate of websites that have pop-ups is very high. If you are going to have pop-ups for mobile customers, make sure it is easy for them to get rid of if they so wish. If they can’t ditch it, they may well just ditch your site altogether.

Clear Text 

Simple as this may seem, it is really important. Keeping text to a minimum is of course optimal for a mobile-responsive site. The text that you do have should be as readable as possible on small screens. Choosing a sans seriffont is good for accessibility. Examples of sans serif fonts are: arial, calibri, futura and gotham. 

There are no flourishes on the individual letters, hence reading on small screens is a simpler, more accessible experience. 

And Finally...

All of these measures will help your RWD to shine through and help your website stand out. So making sure, on a regular basis, that it still cuts the mustard, will pay off. 

Regularly test your website on different tablets, Smartphones and other devices. This will help you to iron out any shortcomings before they start to take a toll on your custom. 

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