In the last few years the rise of different devices used to browse the internet has risen sharply, with the increase in mobile internet speed and availability of wifi hotspots driving growth. According to the 2014 data on Household and Individual Internet Access, released by the Office Of National Statistics, 68% of adults accessed the internet using an ‘on-the-go’ mobile device rather than an home based personal computer.
With the increased diversity of internet enabled devices, businesses need to adapt accordingly to a changing world. With the increasing coverage of the mobile 4G network, the trend towards mobile access looks set to continue. Smaller startup companies need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and taking a proactive approach to their online presence can go a long way.
An increasing amount of modern websites are designed to be responsive, but what does this really mean? A responsive site is crafted in such a way as to be both easy to read and navigate, on a wide range of screen sizes. Depending on the device being used the layout and sizing of the site will automatically adapt to suit, delivering a more enjoyable experience for the on-the-go device user.
With an increasing shift towards mobile devices, a responsive website can offer an experience that seamlessly shifts between different device. By adapting to different devices, it becomes easier for a small business to reach a wide audience, by engaging new users and creating customers.
When mobile websites were first being designed, it was common practice to create a subdomain (another website), the commonplace ‘m’ domain – for example m.wastronauts.com. There were a few reasons for this, but largely it was thought that the mobile site and main site would perform different. This led to the need to create and maintain two separate codebases.
In 2015, this approach is seen as somewhat dated, not to mention difficult. Maintaining two separate codebases whilst keeping both fully updated and coherent is no mean feat, requiring a large staff team. The modern design approach enables a smaller team to create and maintain one codebase, that provides a fast, clean, and responsive experience on any device from mobile to desktop.
The event dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some was the roll-out of Google’s biggest search ranking algorithm change since the infamous ‘panda’ update in 2011. The update was released on 21st April this year and changes how sites are ranked in Google’s search results, placing more emphasis on sites that are optimised for mobile users. To put this in context, a site that was previously on the page one of the results might be put way down if their site does not display well on a mobile device.
The update raises the importance for businesses to have a responsive site design. A loss of ranking for any business with an online presence can be devastating. Although the reality of this update turned out to be far less crippling than many expected, any penalisation effect on search engine optimisation (SEO) needs to be taken seriously.
The need for startups with any online presence to have a responsive website should by now be clear. Small companies may not necessarily have the resilience of larger ones, and SEO should be taken very seriously. This means potentially damaging website problems, be it upkeep issues between ‘m’ and ‘www’ domains, or penalisation in search engine rankings through not being mobile-friendly, could have serious consequences for any small business.