Who uses a computer any more?
I’m sure I’m not alone in having heard web designers and computer experts (or wannabe experts!) bamboozle me with words like responsive or mobile friendly websites, but what does it actually mean?
A responsive website is one that is crafted to allow users to easily access it from a wide range of devices. When planning a new website for your business, how important is it to think about the reality of how we’re accessing information these days and how that might impact an effective website?
Well, current statistics from Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulation and competition authority for the UK communications industries certainly makes for interesting reading. It backs up what we are seeing all around us on a daily basis with some concrete facts.
Two thirds of adults in the UK own a smartphone, with 61% of those smartphone users accessing the internet. Interestingly, usage is no longer the preserve of the young. Usage among 55-64 year olds has more than doubled since 2012, with 50% of this age group now owning a smartphone.
Improvements in 4G connection has done much to expand usage habits, with 55% of smartphone users who are connected to 4G shopping online, compared to only 35% of those without 4G. 4G users are also watching more TV and videos, making more face and voice calls, more photo and video messages and more instant messaging through the likes of WhatsApp.
But what about tablets? Surely this is the device that has done the most to revolutionise our usage habits in the last 5 years or so? While that appears to be true, we seem to use tablets in a slightly different way than smartphones. We seem to be saving our tablets for home with only 15% appearing to take it with them when heading off out. We also seem to favour using apps on our tablet, with 86% of adults accessing the internet using apps. Despite this, almost two-thirds of those same users prefer to use a browser to find information, which is good news for your website!
But one of the most persuasive developments in favour of a responsive website was Google’s announcement in April 2015 that it was to start boosting the rankings of mobile friendly websites. While it’s true that Google uses a variety of indicators to assess page rankings, the obvious outcome of the change is that websites are, in effect, being penalised for not being mobile friendly.
It’s also interesting to look at trends from global markets and how that might impact your website. According to an article by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, sales of smartphones are predicted to dwarf those of PCs and tablets by 2019. Emerging markets in particular are looking for affordable smartphones as their device of choice, if not their only option, for accessing the internet.
With all of this in mind, it seems essential that you check that your web developer is more than capable of providing a fully responsive website that meets all of your business needs. If not for today, then to future proof the needs of your business. Don’t be bamoozled by fancy words, check their previous work and test it with the kit that Google provides to see if truly fits their requirements of a mobile-friendly website.