How Important is Mobile Web Design?

Mobile website design has for many years now been touted as the ‘next big thing’, and it truly is, but it can still be difficult to see what all the fuss is about, particularly from a B2B (business to business) point of view. With B2C (business to consumer) clients, it’s pretty obvious – almost everyone has access to a smartphone or tablet, and browsing habits have changed to the point where, for most people, the smartphone is their primary web browsing device. There’s a lot more to it than this, but this alone sells the idea to B2C clients.

For B2B clients however, it’s not always so clear. For a lot of B2B companies, desktop browsers are still used by a large proportion of their customers, and sales leads are more likely to come through word of mouth than social media or other more B2C-focused channels. So how important is mobile web design for businesses like this? The answer: hugely important. To find out why, let’s take a step back and look at what ‘mobile website design’ actually is.

Years ago, websites were designed primarily for desktop PCs, using a very small set of resolutions/screen-sizes. Most websites had a rigid, fixed structure, with little or no scope for resizing on different screen sizes – and why would there be, when there was such little variation to account for? Then the mobile web started up, first using WAP websites (remember those? No, probably not), then fully-fledged mobile versions of desktop websites. These mobile sites were, in most cases, a completely separate website, and the viewer was automatically redirected to the relevant website depending on what kind of device they were using. These mobile sites did the job, but they were a nightmare when it came to SEO, as more often than not, a page link from the mobile website wouldn’t automatically redirect to the equivalent page on the desktop website. They were also cumbersome when it came to updating content, and were generally a pain in the backside for everyone involved.

Salvation then landed graciously, in the form of responsive web design. Responsive web design is different to just having a mobile website, in that you have a single website built for multiple resolutions – in fact, not just a set of resolutions, but every resolution in between the smallest and largest screen size you want to support. One of the major benefits of this is that, no matter what new resolutions and aspect ratios the latest devices use, a responsive website will be able to resize accordingly.

So what does this have to do with desktop websites and B2B users? Well, responsive web design is so important that Google now uses it as a major factor in their website ranking algorithm. Websites that offer a poor mobile experience will be penalised by appearing lower in the search results, and can even include a warning stating that a website is not mobile friendly. If SEO is important to your business, then you can’t afford to neglect your website’s mobile offering.

On top of this, even in the B2B world, mobile and tablet usage is starting to dominate. Laptop/tablet hybrids are finally beginning to gain traction, and B2B browsing habits are rapidly changing. Even among primarily desktop users, smartphone and tablet devices often plays a part in browsing habits, as business work schedules mean people check their emails on their phone and use their tablets to catch up in the evening.

The good news is that responsive website design is basically an industry standard. Any decent web designer will build a website using responsive design without question – in fact, it’s become so instinctive that it would probably be more hassle to build a website without responsive design these days.

If your website is in need of an update and isn’t yet mobile friendly, why not get in touch for a free quote?