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Web Design considerations for 2013

How people browse the web is changing rapidly – with the huge rise in sales of tablets and smartphones more and more web publishers are having to re-consider how they present content.

Christmas is only around the corner, the Apple store has been jam packed since November, and this can only mean plenty more people with these devices for 2013!

There are over one billion smartphone’s in use worldwide. More people use smartphones to browse the internet than desktops. Tablet sales are expected to exceed 100 million this year.

Are you seeing the bigger picture yet? Have you thought about how your website will look on these devices? Users are visiting from an array of different devices with a wide range of resolutions, but your design may not be compatible with these. In 2013 you need to look beyond desktop usage and start to create website that anticipates and responds to your users' needs.  The way to create this is through responsive web design. Responsive web design represents a shift in how web sites are built in the next decade.

Q. What is Responsive web design?

In a nut shell responsive web design allows your website to respond to the resolution of the device that it is being displayed on, whether its a smartphone, tablet or a desktop device. This is created by coding the website with CSS or HTML so that it knows where to move certain elements of the website, such as navigation, when the device gets smaller. This creates the best possible user friendly experience on your site.

Q. Why should you implement a responsive design?

With the increase in sales of these devices, businesses need to realise that they must optimise the browsing experience for their website visitors in order to increase their online conversions. When a website built for a desktop device is loaded on to a mobile screen it shrinks and fit into the screen. This takes a lot of time zooming in and zooming out finding relevant material, which can be really frustrating, but even worse if you have 'fat fingers'

 A responsive web design would automatically shrink the website to fit the screen resolution. Displaying the data in easy to read 'chunks' allowing a more enjoyable user experience.

SEO Benefits

Having a responsive website design can benefit your SEO because of its ability to maintain the links pointing to the desktop domain.

This advice in particular comes from search engine giant's Google and Bing. They both recommend that businesses use the 'One URL per content' strategy to avoid 'sub-optimal and under performing results' Bing also highlighted on the added cost of maintaining an additional site and how this can be over whelming for small businesses.

Google's word:
Why responsive design

We recommend using responsive web design because it has many good aspects:

Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google's algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.

No redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimised view, which reduces loading time. Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site's user experience (see "Pitfalls when detecting user agents" section for details).

It saves resources for both your site and Google's crawlers. For responsive web design pages, any Googlebot user agents needs to crawl your pages once, as opposed to crawling multiple times with different user agents, to retrieve your content. This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site's contents and keep it appropriately fresh.

Bings Word:
By out putting only one URL for the same content, you will have the following benefits:

1.  You have more ranking signals come to this URL. Example: the vast majority of mobile URLs do not have inbound links from other websites as people do not link to mobile URL's like they link to regular website URL's

2.  This is also less search engine crawler traffic coming to your web servers, which is especially useful for large websites. Fewer URL’s to crawl reduces the band width our crawlers consume.

3.  Less work (and potentially less cost) building, updating and maintaining a standalone mobile- focused website.

So there you have it from the two biggest search engines- they both recommend responsive web design.

However some marketers would disagree with Google and Bing. They believe that despite SEO benefits, the ultimate goal is serving customers and site speed. Which is also hard to disagree with? SEO experts would argue that real SEO has more to do with providing value to the visitor rather than keywords and links. Again the fundamentals of marketing are calling to me here.

Google and Bings ultimate goal is to provide a service to customers, they want to provide the most relevant results that people are searching for therefore they will encourage webmaster’s to design in the way they see best for their own business model. They really don’t care about your ranking position they’re out to make money. Should we take their advice for 2013 and do what we’re told and stick to responsive web design or should we stick to our guns and go with what we know our customers need.

I'll leave it for you to decide

 Depending on the information you want to get across to your visitors should dictate your web design. So is it going to be Responsive design or Mobile site for you in 2013?

 

Posted on: Thu 20th Dec 2012
Pamela Harte's Avatar
Pamela Harte
Pamela is responsible for marketing and business development for the 31interactive customer base.
 
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