The big day is rapidly approaching. The calendar is spinning uncontrollably with April 21 being its ultimate destination. The intensity is at a fever pitch. The winds of online change are picking up and we are all starting to make a beeline for the basement. The nature of the Internet and commerce will never be the same. Or so it appears.
The so-called “Mobilegeddon” is nearly upon us and while there wasn’t much hoopla when Google made their initial announcement in late February, the business world is now seemingly ablaze with news of mobile-friendly sites getting preference in mobile searches. And it’s with good reason, 67 percent of Fortune 100 companies are not mobile friendly, according to the research firm SumAll. That means that the websites of these companies will rank behind companies with mobile-friendly websites. According to a 2013 study by Chitika, the top search result on Google gets 33 percent of the traffic. While this may not be devastating for a Fortune 100 company with tons of brand recognition, it might be for the millions of smaller companies that rely on local search traffic.
Amongst all the speculation and anxiety, a solution has emerged. A heralded method to keep your company in the swiftly growing mobile search game- the responsive website. It all makes so much since now; a website whose elements adjust to neatly fit the screen you are viewing it on. However, the responsive website and its supporting concepts were around long before “mobilegeddon” hype.
The term “responsive web design” was coined by web designer and author Ethan Marcotte in an article for A List Apart in 2010. In the article, he discussed the exploding growth of mobile users and the impracticality of producing and maintaining websites for mobile phones, tablets, etc. He then proposes a web design concept that’s flexible and fluid, adjusting to the device that it appears on- also known as “responsive web design.”
Going even further back, the core concepts behind Marcotte’s discovery are rooted in theories discussed in the book The Dao of Web Design by John Allsop in 2000. Allsop called for websites that were accessible, regardless of the browser, platform or screen that your reader chooses or must use to access your pages. This was long before tablets but Allsop had the vision to realize that web design should be able to adjust to emerging trends.
Fast-forward to the big announcement in late February and the big day in April. “Mobilegeddon” or the “mobile-friendly” update as I’m sure Google would prefer you refer to it, is in response to the growing prevalence of mobile searchers accessing their site. According to a 2014 comScore report, 60% of all Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. “Google is making these changes to improve the quality of the sites delivered to customers which we must remember are the searchers not the websites,” said Alfred Goldberg, president of Absolute Mobile Solutions.
Obviously, Google sees the user experience on mobile devices as paramount to the quality of their product. And with a more quality product on mobile devices comes higher ad rates for companies wanting to promote products in this venue. According to an article by Larry Dignan of ZDNet, Google may be trying to close the gap between ad rates on desktop search versus mobile search. Dignan also said that the mobile friendly algorithm may help Google surface content in apps better so it can index the data.
So what does Mobilegeddon mean for responsive web design? It’s obvious that we are quickly moving to smaller screens as our primary method for viewing the Internet. However, laptops aren’t going away either. It’s critical for companies to be able to display their content effectively, regardless of where the user reaches them. The Mobile Friendly update simply forces companies to act on what is already clear in our society. If your company’s website is not mobile-friendly, there may not be an impact on sales immediately, but as we trend towards mobile, competitors who respond to Google’s mandate will likely drift pass you. No company wants that.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation and our team of award-winning designers can help you keep pace with this growing trend.