Since Google has announced a firm date of April 21st that it will start giving preferential treatment to mobile-friendly websites in their mobile search results, many people have been scrambling to make their websites easier to use on mobile devices.
Differences Between Mobile-Friendly and Responsive
Mobile is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to screen and search usage. Mobile search has surpassed traditional desktop and laptop usage and is an extremely important audience to consider when you design your website. Although mobile-friendly designs are important, there are many more screen sizes that will be rendering your website as well. Responsive design are not only mobile-friendly, they are smart TV-friendly, wearable-friendly, smart car-friendly, and more.
The popularity of other devices to browse the Internet is rising daily. Smart TV Internet browsing use is rising daily. Google has developed self-driving cars and is aggressively promoting their automotive Android OS to other autonomous vehicle manufacturers. Wearables such as Smart Watches and computerized glasses are going to be here soon as well. This will certainly bring other screens that will need to be considered for your website visibility.
My advice is that your next redesign should be a responsive web design.
To simplify, Google wants websites with text large enough to read on mobile devices (smartphone and tablets), larger navigation links, to see the content easily without having to zoom or scroll sideways, and much faster download time with smaller required files. For a very detailed look at what Google finds to be mobile-friendly, visit their mobile SEO page for more information.
This isn’t our first notification from Google it wants mobile-friendly websites. In 2013, Google sponsored Duda Mobile to help people create mobile versions of their website. This was a type of band-aid and would still be acceptable now for the April 21st “deadline”.
Responsive Web Design
The easy way to describe responsive web design is that it is a fluid design that adjusts to many screen sizes but remains visible and functional for each visitor. It ebbs and flows as the user needs in order to be viewed correctly for each screen size, from a smartphone’s 4.5 inch screen to 80+ inch screen on a large HD TV.
Responsively designed websites are the way to go if you are redesigning your website or using a new CMS platform. The following is a description from Wikipedia:
Responsive web design is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
A site designed with responsive web design adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries, an extension of the @media rule, in the following ways:
- The fluid grid concept calls for page element sizing to be in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points.
- Flexible images are also sized in relative units, so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containing element.
- Media queries allow the page to use different CSS style rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on, most commonly the width of the browser.
Responsive web design is mobile-friendly, but mobile-friendly design isn’t responsive.
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