How Important Is Responsive Web Design?

On April 21st, Google unveiled a modification to its algorithm that forever changed the world of online searches. It was a change geared towards making websites more mobile-friendly. This particular change was dubbed “Mobilegeddon”, and it forced a number of webmasters to revisit their website’s design. So, what is Mobilegeddon? More importantly, what does it mean when someone says that a website needs to be mobile-friendly and responsive?

In order to answer these aforementioned questions, it’s important to think about how mobile we’ve become as consumers. After all, we’re all connected, we’re always on the move and the vast majority of us have smartphones. This is ultimately why mobile searches have quickly surpassed desktop and laptop searches.

We use our mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family, in addition to using them to find our favorite restaurant and local hotspot. In fact, the moment we feel the need to share something, we immediate use our mobile phones and either Facebook like it or use another social media sharing button.

In a way, this mobile-friendly change was overdue. Now, does this mean that all website owners should move towards a more responsive design, regardless of where their traffic originates from? In fact, yes, it does. This change isn’t just about making sure websites are more user-friendly; all websites will be measured by the same criteria and search results will favor the website with the responsive design. Therefore, here are some essential criteria Google uses when assessing whether a website is responsive or not.

1. Scrolling by Thumb Only

A mobile-friendly website is one where the user has to scroll up or down and left to right on their mobile phone using only their thumbs. The goal is for the user to easily scroll and navigate the website without having to stop and pinch the screen. This means that fonts, images and videos need to be right-sized for multiple screen sizes. This is by no means an easy task, but it is a prerequisite to being mobile-friendly.

2. No Pinching and Zooming

While Google has never explicitly stated that pinching and zooming should be eliminated entirely, they have made it abundantly clear that too much pinching and zooming is unacceptable. Again, this ties into the need to navigate a website on a mobile device using only your thumbs and not having to squeeze, pinch or zoom in on the screen in order to extrapolate information.

3. Proper Spacing Between Links

How many times have you accidentally clicked on a link only to be sent to a page you wanted nothing to do with and never had any intention of viewing? Well, that happens all the time on mobile devices, which is why a mobile-friendly website has proper spacing between links. A mobile-friendly website simplifies how users navigate the website on a mobile device by ensuring that links and images are properly spaced.

Ultimately, it’s a question of usability. The longer it takes a user to navigate your website on their mobile device, the more likely they are to bounce off your website and abandon pursuit. After all, your website’s bounce rates are measured just the same on a mobile device as they are on a laptop. As such, it’s a good idea to make sure you move towards a responsive website design.

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