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Mobile-friendly vs. Responsive Design and Search Engine Optimization


Responsive Website Design and the Future of Search

web design word cloud on blackboardIn the ever-changing world of technology it can be easy to get lost. We get it; it can be overwhelming to keep up with how much, and how quickly, things are moving. There is one refrain that can make it all a little bit easier to understand, though: Mobile is the future.

More than ever before, numerous industries are catering to mobile technologies, and soon it will become the dominant platform of information technology – and our phones are only the beginning.

Is your practice ready for the mobile revolution?

Trending Now

According to a recent survey by the Pew Services, 63% of US adult cell owners use their phones to go online. Despite this seemingly high amount, this number is expected to climb. Statista anticipates that there will be as many as 196 million smartphone users in the U.S. by the year 2016, and 220 million by 2018.

This increase is not just an American trend, either. Smartphone usage grew 25% worldwide in 2014, and is expected to exceed 2.7 Billion users by 2018. That’s right, by 2018 over one-third of the planet’s population will have internet-enabled smartphones.

Survival of the Fastest

To accommodate the ever-increasing rates of smartphone usage, web builders and search engines alike have had to change the way they operate. In 2012, Google confirmed that they had begun preferring mobile-friendly website design to static or non-responsively designed sites. This means that Google is bracing for the flood of mobile users by integrating mobile friendly and responsive web design into its search algorithm.

Very recently, Google Developers released a blog on their official blogspot account that detailed their intentions further. They state that on April 21, 2015 mobile friendliness will drastically increase in importance for search engine results page rankings.

Having a website that is at least mobile friendly, if not completely responsive, is now a vital component of a well rounded search engine strategy.

Responsive is Adaptive

From plugins to separate, mobile-specific sites, there are any number of mobile solutions available. However, none of these solutions are as comprehensive as getting a responsively designed website.

This is especially true in the context of the increasing diversity of internet-enabled “smart” technology. Knowing what separates these two methods can give some insight to their futures.

Both responsively designed and mobile-friendly websites are a good way to show relevant content on smartphones. The key difference between the two is the way each setup responds to a smartphone:

A mobile friendly site is often a completely separate and streamlined version of your main site, your server detects the device and prioritizes which site to display depending on weather it is a smartphone or desktop detected.

In a responsive design, the website itself shrinks and grows to fit whatever device or window size it finds itself in.

This is where the paths of these two methods diverge. The “now” may be in smartphones but the future is in wearable smart technology. Smart watches and smart glasses are already here, and the amount of technology that will be able to access the internet is expected to explode in the near future. Some experts expect that by 2020 there will be as many as 25 billion internet capable devices, a majority of which may not be smartphones.

This highlights the problem of mobile-friendly devices, they are only friendly to mobile devices. Using the mobile friendly method in the future you would need to make a separate website for each technology. However, by using responsive design it is possible to cater to all of these technologies right out of the box.

If you have any further questions about responsive website design and development, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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