Is Your Website Responsive or Mobile Friendly?

There has been talk online in news and discussion groups about “Mobilegeddon”. Have you heard about it? It refers to the day, 21 April 2015, when a new algorithm change from Google takes effect.

What is the change and do you need to care?

In short, yes. If you have a business with a website, then the change could affect you.

To put it simply, the change affects the way Google ranks websites that don’t have responsive web design. So let’s take a look at what responsive web design is and what this change means for you.

What is responsive web design and why is it important?

Responsive web design (RWD) is the way of designing and developing a website so that it looks and “responds” correctly on different viewing devices – ensuring everything looks and functions properly whether you’re viewing a website from a computer, tablet or a smartphone.

Essentially, it means that if your website wasn’t designed to adapt to different viewing devices – particularly mobile phones – then Google won’t rank it favourably compared to those that are responsive.

This is becoming incredibly more and more important because of the rate at which smartphone and tablet use is growing.

In 2008 the prediction “Mobile to overtake fixed internet access by 2014" was made by Mary Meeker, investment and technology analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and author of the annual Internet Trends report.

This bold prediction seven years ago has proven true as many industry watchers are saying that the majority of digital media consumption now takes place on mobile devices. In short, more internet searching is now done on mobile devices as opposed to computers.

Without getting bombarded by the statistics and percentages, focus on the simple fact that the use of mobile devices (tablets and phones) for internet searching and overall use is growing globally. You can probably see this in your life on a daily basis, as we’re using our smartphones more and more for searches, directions, store hours, shopping, registering, ordering, you name it.

So how do you know if your website is responsive?

The easiest way to tell is to have a look at your website on your mobile phone. Does it display properly? If your site was designed responsively, things should look different than they look on your computer or laptop because the size of banners and columns will automatically adjust to fit the screen.

If you're unsure, have a look at this tool to check:

Or have a look at this blog post from Google themselves.

But really, the best way to check is to just go and have a look at your site on different devices. See how it looks and how it functions when you scroll around your pages, when you try to click on your links, and when you try to interact or order.

So what should you do if your website is not responsive?

If your site was not designed to adapt to smaller screens like tablets and mobile phones, then you need to look at getting this done sooner rather than later – for two very important reasons.

First, as we’ve mentioned, Google is starting to rank responsive websites more favourably than non-responsive ones. So if you optimised your site and were getting a good placement in search engine results, but didn’t invest in responsive website design, then you may find that your website begins to rank lower than it used to. This is incredibly important if your competitors have responsive sites and they start to rank higher in searches than you do.

Second, if your website is not responsive, you’re going to start getting frustrated website visitors. As we use our smartphones and tablets more and more, our expectations change. We expect pages to load quickly and be easy to read and use. There is a direct correlation between our digital habits and our patience for poor quality products and service – and this includes your website. If people can’t find what they need easily and quickly while they’re searching and browsing, they’re going to look for a site that does make the task easier.

As with so many things related to marketing, if you invest the time and money needed upfront to get things done with a long-term approach in mind, you’re most likely going to save in the long run. And most importantly, you’re going to do a much better job of anticipating and satisfying your customers’ needs.