Read the Case Against "Going Mobile" Before Redesigning Your Website
If you haven't received a doom-and-gloom email from a responsive web design company claiming you are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue because your website is not mobile-friendly, count yourself lucky. Web developers are aggressively playing on the fears of successful and not-so-successful businesses by telling them they are condemned to financial ruin if they don't operate two different websites simultaneously--one designed for access by a mobile device and one meant for desktops/laptops--or simply have one "responsively designed" website that adapts to small, smartphone screens.
Although it is true that more people than ever use smart phones exclusively to access the Internet, it is not true that you need to go mobile in order to remain competitive. Because these predatory website designers seem to make such a strong case for businesses to use mobile-friendly sites or perish, many companies impulsively hire their services without bothering to step back, take a deep breath and analyze several important factors that can determine whether they need to revise their website or keep it exactly as it is.
Google Analytics Knows All
Google Analytics is a must-use application that provides information regarding your website's performance. By applying Google Analytics to your website, you can immediately discover how many times your site has been visited, bounce rates, if your SEO strategy is working well and, most importantly, how much traffic is actually coming from mobile devices. It can also tell you how long visitors spend on your site, their country of origin and if the user visiting your page is a new or returning user.
Proponents of responsive web design technology don't want businesses to know about Google Analytics and how it can accurately tell them whether they need a mobile-friendly site to remain successful. Why change something that is already working just because a hungry site designer takes advantage of a current marketing movement that may or may not be legitimately noteworthy?
The fact that the vast majority of websites selling a product or service are text-driven to optimize SEO and facilitate ranking on search queries decidedly indicates that responsive web design may be a waste of money and time.
Here's 3 reasons why the case against "going mobile" should be earnestly questioned by site owners:
1. Responsive web design often does not live up to user expectation. Although RWD is supposed to make it easier to view websites on smaller screens, it can actually distort a website so much that certain, necessary features may disappear or be re-jigged from where they originally appeared on the non-RWD site.
The primary driving force behind a responsively designed website is CSS, or "cascading style sheets", a type of programming that demands increased hosting costs, additional server space and higher allowance for data transfers. On top of these issues is the fact that sites using CSS have longer loading times, a problem that many impatient Internet users find aggravating. Consequently, bounce rates may rise and lead to decreased revenue for sites using CSS.
2. Going mobile compromises a website's ability to remain as search engine optimized as possible. Instead of concentrating on keeping content dynamic, relevant and irresistible to Google search algorithm, RWD designers only care about the appearance of the site. Search engine crawlers are trolling for impeccably written content containing specific keywords, authoritative links and useful information pertaining specifically to the subject of the website.
3. Google Analytics can accurately tell you if your website is performing well the way it is. If your site is consistently attracting visitors, achieving most of your goals, generating leads and maintaining acceptable conversion rates, why change it? Jumping on the RWD bandwagon does not guarantee you will be miraculously flooded with thousands of new customers who live on their mobile devices.
More Disadvantages to Implementing a Mobile-Friendly Website
For some businesses, videos work better at describing their products or services than having users read a page of high-tech text. However, embedding videos in responsively designed sites is frequently problematic due to using CSS and often results in videos disappearing off the screen or simply not playing because of slow load times.
Adsense units need to be strategically placed on blogs in order for them to remain highly visible and accessible to visitors. Responsive web design does not address the issue of Adsense, which unnecessarily forces professional bloggers to choose between RWD or Adsense.
Research has shown that people use their mobile devices to email, visit social media sites and surf the Internet. They tend to use desktop or laptop computers to purchase items simply because it is easier to navigate an ecommerce site's interface using a keyboard (choosing items, checking out, viewing payment options, etc).
People Really Dislike Slow-Loading Webpages
The Nielson-Norman Group offers fascinating information about why speed matters regarding load times for websites. For example, this well-known research organization states that "human aspirations" makes us want to "feel in control...rather than subjugated to the whims of a digital device". They also claim that when websites "make us wait...they may seem incompetent or arrogant". When Nielson-Norman asked users about websites they have visited, the most-heard complaint involved slowness and waiting for a site to load. In fact, NN writes that "speed (or slowness" makes such an impact on users that it can become a brand value that customers think about when they remember using that site".
The Flip Side of Going Mobile--When It May Be Advantageous
A company's target demographics sharply influence whether their website should be optimized for smartphones or small tablets. The heaviest users of mobile devices are Millenials, who are typically between 18 and 35 years old and have never known a world without computers and the Internet. Consequently, businesses offering products and services attractive to Millenials should probably invest in a RWD while maintaining a traditional website as well. Consistently analyzing site performance over the course of several months using Google Analytics will then indicate whether the company should continue maintaining their non-responsive website and concentrate their resources on their mobile-friendly site.
What does your website look like on mobile devices?