It is widely accepted that an average of 30% of browsing now occurs from a mobile device. When building and maintaining your online presence you simply can’t afford to ignore up to a third of your visitor base or accept providing a sub-par user experience.
A responsive design target this issue head-on. Responsive WordPress themes are automatically adapted to suit mobile devices, and often offer unique features which actually improve the customer experience.
Before choosing your responsive theme, make sure you fully understand the different types of mobile devices you expect visitors to use when browsing your website. Each device has unique factors to consider.
Considering Mobile Devices
The term mobile devices cover a number of different technologies. Laptops and notebooks have a smaller sized screen than desktop computers, while tablets are even more portable and lightweight, and come with the added ability of touchscreen and orientation functionality to view the screen in either portrait or landscape by turning the device.
Mobile phones add their own data allowance and GPS considerations to the mix. More complex still is how you treat hybrid devices such as the phablet, somewhere between a tablet and a mobile phone. You may consider your desktop-friendly website to be enough for your brand, but Google and other SEO experts would disagree.
After a talk by Gary Illyeson user experience being multi-device, the company has been hinting towards user experience on mobile phones and tablets contributing towards overall page rankings of your website as a whole.
“Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we’re making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle. We want users to be able to enjoy the web wherever they are.”
What Can a Responsive WordPress Theme Give?
With notebook and laptop screens as small as 10 inches on the market, your website needs to automatically adapt its content or layout to suit, in the same way as it would to a tablet or phablet device.
Text or multimedia-heavy websites are often clumsy or difficult to view on the smaller screens of portable devices. Former Microsoft Engineer Rahul Lalmalanisummarizes this issue well: “Ideally, when we design responsive sites, we want to make the grid layout agnostic of the user’s screen size,” meaning the template itself will change automatically depending on which device it’s being accessed from.
More specifically for a tablet, phablet and mobile devices, it can’t be denied that touchscreen has changed the way we browse the Internet. However, at the same time, it has not taken away the majority of web surfing from mouse-controlled computers.
This means that there is a balance to be found with providing the best user experience for both kinds of web browsing. Hover is an excellent example of this dilemma. Hover (or mouseover) technology allows visitors to access additional information by simply moving the cursor over an area of the screen.
This is often impossible or at best awkward on tablets and mobile phones. In fact, Trent Walton, founder of Paravel, comments that as a direct result of the growth of touchscreen devices, “Anything we design for the web that requires a hover state has an uncertain future and could be subject to serious usability issues.”
Another issue which arises involves bandwidth. While images and backgrounds are a way of improving a visitor’s user experience, they can slow down browsing and online shopping from a handheld device, causing lengthy page load times. The majority of mobile web users say they would wait no more than 6-10 seconds for a page to load before abandoning their search.
To put this simply, Sean Work from KissMetrics has found that a 1-second delay will result in up to 7% less page conversions. If you are an ecommerce website making $100,000 a day, a 1-second delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.
Going the Extra Mile
Take advantage of the wide range of extras for websites on a handheld device. One good example uses location services. Your responsive website can make the most of this customer data with special offers targeted directly for your visitor’s area, using the device itself to redeem them via email or QR code.
Some themes will include the ability to add widgets such as ‘Click to call’ allowing visitors to dial your phone number with one click from the web page. These are just two options that help promote a more thorough mobile marketing strategy rather than just an optimized website. WordPress responsive themes are clearly a must-have to guarantee continued top notch user experience for your visitors.