Blogs > Responsive Web Design in 2018 – Think Mobile First
March 20, 2018 Jaclyn Bickerton
Responsive web design matters now more than ever. Nobody should have to experience that horrible feeling of zooming in and out numerous times to get through a website on their phone. Nowadays, in fact, nobody will because there are plenty of options in just about every industry that provide a better digital experience that adapts to all devices. All a user has to do is click the “back” button, leaving an un-optimized website behind to collect dust.
In even simpler terms – responsive websites are the only website format that should be taken seriously on the internet. So unlike mobile friendly websites, responsive sites will never have users zooming, squinting (and probably cursing). Here are the sweeping benefits of responsive web design and the disadvantages of websites that are not responsive:
Statista has found that mobile traffic globally has a larger share of internet usage than desktop traffic. In fact, mobile traffic has been ahead of desktop traffic since 2015. These figures are increasing year over year, causing websites that are not responsive to lose progressively larger portions of their audience. Ask any company if they would like to more than double their website traffic. It’s probably a good bet they will say yes.
If #1 wasn’t convincing enough, research shows that mobile internet usage is projected to skyrocket in the coming year. If we’re already seeing shamelessly cheesy commercials like this one (I mean come on, everyone knows what a computer is), it’s only foreshadowing that we will experience more “anti-desktop” movements in the future. It’s compelling that even companies that pride themselves on building great computers are targeting younger demographics and alluding to a world where the computer industry is ripe for disruption. When Apple does something like this, it’s worth paying attention.
50% of US Ecommerce revenue is already happening on mobile devices. It logically follows that with the projected increase in overall mobile share of internet traffic that this number will go up as well. In fact, many retailers are already known for their great mobile shopping experience and others are making significant improvements to theirs. Those who do not may cease to exist in the near future.
New statistic—same idea. People are spending more and more time using the internet on their mobile devices. More time equals more activity, and more activity means more traffic potential.
Ok, so here’s where responsive web design comes into play:
Websites that are not mobile responsive are by nature poorly designed, because they don’t provide an optimal user experience. No company wants its website visitors to be wary of referring them.
All the traffic in the world doesn’t matter if a website isn’t ready to give that traffic what it’s looking for. A website that requires pinching and zooming is no longer just a small inconvenience to its users, it’s an automatic “no.” While responsive design is not yet featured on as many websites as it should be, it’s still out there—and users will search until they find it rather than settling for a bad website.
This is an area where companies with mobile friendly websites may think they are unscathed by their lack of responsive websites, but it’s actually quite the opposite. “Seamless experience across all devices” doesn’t mean “same experience across all devices.” Rather, it implies that a user can view a website on a computer, then pick up a phone or tablet and pick up where he left off without any confusion. The layout of the website may look different—as it should, based on the different sized devices—but the ease of use and the overall experience should never suffer.
Earlier, we learned that 50% of U.S. Ecommerce sales occur on mobile devices. If smartphones alone account for 57% of retail website visits, there must be a gap in the quality of retail mobile sites that causes conversion rates to be lower. Still, 57%—a number primed to be bolstered by retailers putting more effort into their mobile shopping experiences—should be a large enough slice of the pie to drive retailers with poor mobile experiences to action.
Yet another signal that the websites viewed by the mobile audience are getting better. The companies getting it right are clearly reaping the benefits of a high quality digital presence on mobile. Those getting it wrong are missing out on a ton of potential sales and revenue.
Let’s say you’re on the road and your car breaks down, or you’re at dinner with a friend and want to find a new, exciting place for dessert. What do these two situations have in common?
Although over half of web traffic is happening on mobile devices, the mobile experience is even more powerful in the local business scene. Local businesses have extremely high potential for traffic from people on the go.
So how in the world do we explain the following statistic?
Seriously? Not even mobile friendly, which we’ve been trash talking this entire time? To put things in perspective, in early 2015—almost three years ago—that number was 11.8%! That means there has only been an increase of just over 5 percent…
Here’s the good news:
The implications of this—particularly for small businesses—are staggering. Jumping in front of that 83+% of businesses without responsive websites can be an incredible advantage if we take into account all of the traffic statistics listed above and the trajectory of mobile web traffic moving forward.
According to Moz: “In a mobile-only world [which we will be discussing shortly], the relevance of local search is even higher.”
The future is bright for early adopters, and apparently, it’s still possible to become an early adopter.
We’re choosing to end with a slightly controversial one here. Studies have found that while websites get more mobile traffic than desktop traffic, the time spent on desktop websites is still higher than the time spent on them in mobile formats. How could that be?
Well, we just got done talking about the amount of opportunity presented by turning a previously bad website into a mobile responsive one. We see this 59.9% as another massive opportunity:
People are using their mobile devices to search for what they need online, but they aren’t getting the experience they have come to expect.
Can we please just give the people what they want?
These 12 statistics from 2017 also tell the story of a digital world transitioning more and more toward giving internet users what they want and shifting more thought and attention to the mobile experience. But even with all of this, we aren’t quite where we should be.
Smashing Magazine has found that 3 in 10 websites are still oblivious to Google’s mobile ranking signal. Clearly, there’s a long way to go.