Note: It turned into a longer newsletter than I intended. If you don’t want to read all of this look for the bolded parts and you will get the general idea.
The first conference, the one that I am going to talk about today, was WordCamp in Austin. WordCamp is a 2 day conference for WordPress Geeks and I fit right in. At this conference I got to spend some time with amazing minds such as the developer for Thesis Theme 2.0 and some reps from hosting companies.
This was my first WordCamp and I look forward to WordCamp DFW in October. If any of you have interest in WordCamp do let me know.
I felt as though large boulders of data were being shoved in my brain during this conference but in a good way. The course that blew me away was The Future of Responsive Design by Nick Batik.
What We Already Know About Responsive Design
We all know at this point is that responsive website design is not only crucial for a website but is all but required at this point. We know how seriously Google is taking this because they told us so on multiple occasions.
Check out this article just six days ago from the Huffington Post: How Important is Responsive Design. In this article you will see amazing stats about mobile search and if you want even more stats and numbers just let me know. This is a fascinating conversation and it the conversation is shifting quickly.
Here is an excerpt from the article that you don’t want to miss:
And Google realizes that unhappy people will go elsewhere, meaning that bounce rates increase and the site will not rank on mobile searches. This creates a whole big headache involving Google’s external link algorithm and on-page errors. Which in turn, also harms your SEO.
In other words, it’s just bad for business for both Google and all of the websites that aren’t taking advantage of the benefits of responsive design.
What We have not been Thinking About with Responsive Design?
As Nick said in his talk, a year ago we were not even talking about mobile responsive design hardly at all. It was not on the radar but over the past year a tremendous amount has changed. This change has forced us all to think a great deal about how the websites look when they get small.
Over the past 9 months we have all as developers spent a great deal of time thinking about how a website looks on a phone and that is wonderful but…
What Does Your Website Look Like When it gets Big?
When he asked this question, I literally heard gasps in the room because he threw up a rapid series of images that challenged us all. There are now walls in malls that are being turned into screens for people to search websites. Consider what I am saying here, it is not a wall of small tv’s but rather a single wall that they expect a single website to fill.
There are odd shaped signs that they expect to display local websites on in various locations. In this talk Nick said that there was currently no solution for this problem but he did have some ideas. He is requesting that developers work with him on a project to be the set of folks that solve this problem. It is an exciting future for web design and it is also an uncertain one.
The Good News about Responsive Design
The good news is that this year you and your company just need to think about what your site looks like when it is small.
Do you have to pinch and zoom to read the content? If so, that is bad and people will leave your site or at least that is what Google says. This pinch and zoom effect is why people leave your website and that sounds terrible but frankly, I have started to find it frustrating as well.
Why is this all good news? Well, if you are reading this newsletter then odds are good that your website was built on WordPress. That means that half of the battle for this mobile responsive design is done.
This is not information that I wanted to bring to all you because it may involve an update of your website or blog and that is not something that any small business owner wants to consider. However, considering the urgency that the search engines are placing on this issue it feel like you needed to know.
WordPress is trying to help folks resolve this issue and there is a WordPress plugin called WPTouch that they are providing. Here is a link: WP Touch Plugin. Personally, I did not have any success with this plugin at all and wound up having to redesign my website but you may want to spend some time playing with it and give it a shot.
One final note, having two versions of your website no longer considered a reasonable solution by the search engines. There was a time, about a year ago that some people would have a mobile version of their website built and then have their desktop version of their website. This essentially meant that you had two versions of your website and Google considers that duplicate content and cheating. They want you to have just one website that looks good on all formats….no pressure right??
Just know that we are all in this together. There is no perfect version of responsive design and no matter how hard you or your web developer tries there will always be hiccups on some device at some point. Another piece of good news is that if you have a responsive designed site you will likely get search preference over your competitors who do not.
For further reading on this topic here is a quick list of links:
I hope that this information helps you. We are here for you and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask us. This is what we do and we love talking about it.