Responsive design is not enough


By this time, we are all aware of the new Google algorithm updates brought about to reward “mobile-friendly” sites in searches carried out from mobile devices. (And potentially penalise mobile-unfriendly sites, which may begin to slip down the rankings.) In announcing the updates, Google told us that they prefer a site to have one website, not two separate websites, for what is basically the same content.

We, like many businesses out there, let out a sign of relief when we heard that responsive design is the configuration that Google recommends to fulfil this new obligation. That is, until we tested our own responsive site and realised – responsive design is not enough. So what is the answer?

Responsive design falls short when you start to really care about the UI/UX of your website. Some components of your designed-for-desktop website may work on a tablet or mobile device, but do not provide an optimum UI/UX as they would on a full screen.

[However, please note: Search rankings via tablets will not be affected by these Google updates because, in Google’s opinion, they tend to have larger screens and users tend to expect a desktop version of your site. It’s also important to note that although the algorithm updates are not thought to affect searches carried out on desktop devices at this time, that this may change in the future.]

What Google’s new algorithm updates tell us is that they want content to be optimized for mobile devices – and Google understands that just resizing images and moving content around is not enough. In order to look your best in Google’s eyes, you need your website to use responsive delivery.

On a site using responsive design, all components load, may load slowly, and provide a lesser UI/UX. However, with responsive delivery, as a visitor lands on the web page, the web browser begins requesting device-specific files as it reads through the site code.

With responsive delivery, only components specific to the device the visitor is using are loaded – instead of designed-for-desktop content that is just scaled or rearranged to fit onto other devices.

So, we have some homework to do and improvements to make – we’ll let you know how we get on.

Check your own website using Google’s new Mobile-Friendly Test: