What does it mean to have a responsive/mobile-friendly website?

smartphoneOn Monday, MDPM’s marketing director, Sara Aisenberg, discussed how all signs indicate that a new mobile ranking algorithm is about to launch at Google.

For the past 2 years or so, every website built by MDPM has been fully responsive. Over the past few months, we’ve been working with our longstanding clients to update their non-responsive websites to mobile-friendly formats. It all sounds simple enough, but as the technical director here at MDPM, I get a lot of questions about what exactly it means to be mobile-friendly.

Mobile volume in search traffic

According to whatis.com, “responsive design is an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts, flexible images and cascading style sheet media queries.  The goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly.” Once a client understands what responsive/mobile friendly means, the next question is why they need a responsive website.

According to Small Business Trends, “smartphones and tablets combined [accounted] for 6o percent of all online traffic” in July of last year. This number was up from 50 percent a year prior to that, and this number continues to grow. This means that two things:

  1. That websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are already losing out on visitors, users, conversions, and more because these sites function improperly (or not at all) on mobile devices, and
  2. That unresponsive websites will be penalized in Google’s search results and — ultimately — see a huge drop in traffic if and when Google does roll out a mobile-focused algorithm update

Once a client understands the why, it’s time to explain the how.

Mobile First Building

MDPM’s web developers and technical support team — or Techies as their lovingly referred to in the office — know their stuff. Some might say they know Code better than they know English, so we don’t always explain the process involved behind the scenes.

Back in the day — before having a responsive website a was a suggestion, let alone a requirement — a website would have one version: a desktop version. Today, we do what’s called Mobile First Building, which is a growing movement in the design world. According to Distilled Resources, Mobile First is “the basic idea is that mobile sites should be designed first, then expanded into pages for tablets and desktops. There’s nothing you can put on a mobile page that can’t be loaded on the desktop version (besides mobile-specific features, but those are less of an issue to fix). This approach is especially helpful for responsive and dynamically served sites, where the content on the mobile version of the page should be identical to the content on the desktop page.”

In a nutshell, MDPM Consulting creates responsive websites by building on a content management system. This CMS allows us to code for different screen sizes using separate CSS style sheets for incremental screen sizes: phone, tablet, laptop, computer, television, etc. We organize the code to change width as the screen size of the device gets bigger. These style sheets indicate to the CMS how the website should look depending on the size of the device. By doing this, we’re making sure our clients’ websites are inline with the most up-to-date SEO and user experience (UX) standards.

Have questions about the mobile usability of your dental website? Want to know more about this push for responsive design? Considering updating your non-responsive website to current industry standards? The technical experts at MDPM Consulting have got you covered. Give Jill a call at (972) 781-8861 or shoot us an email at [email protected].