Is your website responsive?
Small business owners must make their websites work for them. Whether the website is created and maintained in-house or by an outside agent, it needs to reach the right customers at the right time, in a responsive manner.
Responsive Web Design (RWD), sometimes called Progressive Enhancement, means designing websites to give users the best viewing experience, best navigation and ease of use regardless of the device they use. Business owners who are responsive to their customers in store and online react to what the customers say and want.
Responsive Webdesign lets businesses have one set of web pages with one set of code. The site automatically reacts and adapts to the screen size and layout of the user’s device. Many business websites have not converted to a responsive format although they may have a “mobile friendly” version of the main site. For instance, Flash animation and video do not work properly on most mobile technology.
Small businesses with a responsive web presences have a better foothold with their keywords and sales niches. RWD is not the same as mobile friendly sites which look fine on Smart phones, but less so on other devices. A website that is exactly the same as the desktop version but minimized to cell phone size is not responsive web design.
Over half the population now owns a Smartphone, and nearly 2/3 of those use them to access the Internet. Small business owners should ensure site users have a great experience on mobile devices. Customers who experience problems with display, navigation and slow loading website do not return.
Maintenance of an RWD site is unchanged, because changes made to any website page automatically incorporate the responsive features and update all versions of the site. Many large companies have yet to optimize sites for multiple mobile devices. Small businesses wanting to outrank such a competitor have an edge using a responsive website.
Local small businesses need more customers to compete against larger rivals. A responsive website giving shoppers contact information, directions and information brings in customers. Research shows about 1/7 of all web searches occur through mobile devices, and 70% of searchers act on the search results within one hour. Overall, 94% of Smartphone users search for local business information on their phones and 84% take action as a result. Small businesses cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
Increased visitors to a bricks-and-mortar store or online store translate to higher sales. People who have had a positive shopping experience return to the business regularly. Local business customers are already mobile, so the business must be available to them.
Web statistics usually find 10%-30% of site visitors come from tablets and mobile devices. Local businesses cannot afford to lose that traffic because visitors had difficulty with the website. Sites that use ads such as AdSense find that those ads on responsive websites see 20%-30% increases in earnings compared to “mobile friendly” versions of the site. Clearly, responsive websites increase conversions to sales.
Search engine optimization and page ranking are vital to company websites. Google made specific statements about their preference for RWD as industry best practice. Other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing have similar opinions.
Major search engines prefer RWD because non-responsive sites show a number of flaws:
- Poor linking from mobile to desktop sites
- Problems with redirects and misconfiguration
- Navigation problems for mobile users
- Duplicate content issues when both a mobile site and a desktop site exist
Search engines cited several distinct benefits of responsive web design in search rankings:
- Sites are easier for search engines to index, find content and crawl
- Users can find the sites more easily, thus generating more traffic
- Higher likelihood of valid and credible links
Well-formatted, easily accessed sites create happy customers who stay loyal to the business. User satisfaction with a website may include user involvement or engagement, easily-accessed content, improved site navigation and better website appearance.
Small business owners know if customers request an item or service, the company finds a way to respond to the request. If visitors to the company’s online store cannot use the site to get what they want, they take their money elsewhere.
If a small business site has paid for online advertising to direct visitors to their site, they wasted their marketing money if site visitors cannot read their site. When visitors and customers have positive experiences at small business stores or websites their opinion of the brands, products or services increases.
Whether a small business website hosts a blog, sales or services, increasing and maintaining viewership and conversions to sales are keys to success. Responsive web design increases the site’s search engine page rank, making it more likely to be seen by mobile searchers. More views translate to more customers, boosting the bottom line of the up-to-date small business website owner.
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