05 January 2015
Guest post by Ivan Serrano,

Ignore responsive web design at your peril

Responsive Mobile Design

There are almost 2 billion smartphone users worldwide with that number expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2017. Brands no longer have the option to ignore mobile if they want to stay relevant, they need to optimise for mobile. Research shows that 72% of consumers expect brands to have a mobile-friendly site and yet 96% have come across sites that are not optimised. Mobile optimisation doesn't simply mean having a site viewable on mobile devices, it means a web experience tailored to suit to the mobile user. If you are on the fence about optimising your site for mobile, these reasons might change your mind.

Mobile Users are Different
Because of the nature of mobile devices, consumers generally use it when they are searching for something on-the-go. They are far more task-oriented and want their information in smaller, easier to understand bites. If they cannot find what they want immediately, consumers will go back to a search engine and visit a competitor's site.

If you want to keep potential customers on your site, you need to make it easy for them to make a purchase or find information. Some of the easier actions you can take are:

● Include your address and hours of operation on the home page

● Add a click-to-call and click-to-email button so users do not need to open a new window to contact your company

● If you have an app, allow customers to download it through your site

● Use geolocation features so customers can easily find your location

Better Mobile Search Engine Ranking

Around 25% of all search engine traffic comes from mobile devices. Recently, Google made changes to its algorithm that separates search results made on mobile devices from desktop searches. Sites that utilise a responsive design will ultimately rank higher than those that are not optimised at all. If you don't have a mobile friendly site, your site will ultimately drop in page rank, even if the rest of your SEO strategy is solid.

If you really want to improve your page rank on mobile, focus on local SEO. List your business in Google's My Business and make sure that your name, address and phone number are consistent across every directory that lists you. Every correct citation gives you a local SEO uptick and you'll rank higher.

Higher Conversation Rates
Mobile commerce has generated $100 billion in revenue this past year and it's slated to top $293 billion by 2018. Improving the mobile shopping experience is the key to attracting new customers to your site. Keep your site as simple as possible by making your call to action clear and easy to click. An engaging, hassle-free and pleasant mobile experience will improve your conversion rate, especially considering 80% of all mobile purchases are made impulsively.

Brand Loyalty
Repeat visits are the lifeline of any business and the more you cater to your audience's changing habits, the more loyalty you will build among your customers. A site optimised for mobile will help you retain your customers as 74% of consumers are more likely to return to a mobile friendly site in the future. On the other hand, if your site is not optimised, consumers will be less likely to engage in the future and have a more negative impression of your brand.

It's clear that mobile is the way of the future and not just a passing fad. If you want to get ahead, you'll need to optimise. If you're not sure if your site is mobile-friendly or not, check it out on your own smartphone and browse around. If it takes longer than three seconds to load and it's difficult to find the information you want, it's time for an overhaul.

By Ivan Serrano,
Social media, business and technology journalist living in Northern California.  


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