In a span of just a few years, responsive web design (RWD) has transformed from a buzzword into a necessity. How has it become such a top priority for developers and marketers alike? Answer: The dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices. As the digital media consumption habits of your target market evolve it is important to consider how responsive design adds value to your social media marketing.
The Rise of Mobile
According to statistics from Unified Social, 78% of Facebook users and 60% of Twitter users are mobile. Data also indicates that mobile users share more content compared to their desktop counterparts. Pinterest users share three times more content on mobile, and 39% of Fan page posts from mobile devices are more engaging.
As a social media marketer, these facts and figures simply can’t be ignored. The internet is evolving and we must evolve with it.
So What Is Responsive Design?
Responsive web design works by using a layout that adjusts to fit the screen of any device. Simply, a responsive site detects the screen resolution of the device it is serving and adjusts the content accordingly. Some sites even detect the type of device, and so can customize the functionality for swipe capability etc.
RWD vs. non-RWD
Here are a couple of sites that are particularly close to my own heart:
I love reading both of these sites, but it’s very annoying having to pinch, zoom, scroll and squint my eyes when accessing football365.com (image on the left) on my phone – not to mention the difficulty in clicking links (and accidentally clicking links when scrolling) while navigating around. And that’s just when I’m sitting still. If I’m on-the-go, like most mobile users are, it becomes virtually impossible so I don’t even bother. Toffeeweb (image on the right), on the other hand, re-sizes beautifully to my device and requires only a vertical scroll to see the entire page’s content.
The internet landscape is incredibly fluid; it changes almost weekly. Designers have to adapt quickly to new standards. Marketers have to adapt to the whims of Google, and the web as a whole has to adapt quickly to the changing habits of users.
When mobile internet first starting to gain traction, there were a couple of solutions that site owners could opt for. They could design an app for a site, or they could design a separate ‘mobile site’ on a sub-domain (m.yoursite.com). Both of these options were, and still are, better than not accommodating mobile users, but they both have serious drawbacks.
An app requires downloading, is expensive to develop, and is not part of the ‘open web’. Also importantly it cannot be crawled by Google. Users will not just stumble across an app on Google, which leaves a serious gap in its marketing scope. A dedicated mobile site, however, can be optimized and detected when accessed via a mobile device. The only trouble is; it’s completely separate from the normal website. It requires just as much maintenance and just as much optimization as the regular site. For a huge e-commerce company, it could turn into a logistical nightmare to cater separately for all users.
What’s a fundamental ethos of web design?
To make things easier and more appealing for users and site-owners alike. The above methods fail at this basic principle.
Enter Responsive Web Design. Not only does RWD look great on any device, it displays exactly the same content as the regular site. This means that to optimize for one medium is to optimize for them all. It also means that your content will be displayed in a user friendly format on any device. In these rapidly evolving technological times that we live in it doesn’t even matter which device comes along next, RWD is ready and waiting. In a world of impermanence, RWD is about as future-proof as you’re likely to get.
What does it mean for Social Media Marketers?
Here are a few benefits of using RWD for your marketing strategy and how responsive design adds value to your social media marketing:
1. The link you’re sharing leads to a mobile-friendly site
If your site is displaying well across all devices, you can be confident about using social media to the max for your marketing efforts. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest… they’re all at your disposal if you know that your audience will have a great user-experience once they click on your link. It is estimated there will be around 8 billion mobile subscribers by the end of 2016. Can you afford not to cater to them?
2. Know that your material is visible to customers
For marketers, the great thing about social media is that it is used for both business and pleasure. One minute, a user is chatting to a friend, the next they are viewing your company’s post and deciding whether to click that link or not. Mobile internet has also drastically increased the amount of time a person spends using social media. Mobile Twitter users are 79% more likely to be on Twitter several times a day, and 66% of them are more likely to retweet. To have that reach and the potential for interaction is incredible. It’s important to ensure that any link they click will serve up an easily accessible and attractive web page on their device.
3. RWD dramatically increases conversion rates
A responsive site is also key to encouraging purchases from a mobile. Take a look at this statistic: In Australia alone, 87% of consumers click on mobile ads, but only 28% make a purchase through their mobile device. The reason? Only 25% of websites are mobile friendly. So, when leading customers to an e-commerce site, having it display correctly on a mobile device greatly increases the chances of making a sale.
4. Have confidence in your SEO efforts
As you won’t need to promote several different versions, you can be confident that your marketing efforts will accumulate nicely on one page. One single URL will be attracting links and social shares, and will steadily build up its PageRank and Page Authority. Google openly recommend responsive designs.
5. Be sure you’re not displaying to the wrong audience
Promoting a mobile site (as opposed to utilizing and RWD site) can lead to a poor user-experience. If you’ve ever opened a mobile page while on a desktop computer, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. By employing RWD, you can be assured that you can market any page of your site to your entire audience regardless of where they will view your content.
Responsive web design is practically a fail-safe method for delivering information in a visually-friendly and usable way. That being said, there are other options besides RWD, and these should also be taken into consideration. It all depends on the type and the size of website you operate, and the demands of your users. Ultimately it should all be about the user experience.
One thing is for certain, though. Being able to display content across many different devices will quickly become a standard for web design. Mobile use will very soon outweigh desktop use, and it’s vital you keep pace.
For some compelling stats about how responsive design adds value to your social media marketing check out this excellent Infographic from Unified Social:
The post How responsive design adds value to your social media marketing appeared first on Social Strategies.