Guest Post from Eric “E-Rock” Christopher
Do you own a small business or provide services like web site design or SEO for small businesses? If so, you need to pay attention to the latest announcement that Google just made. With technology morphing and evolving at such a rapid pace, it can be quite challenging in keeping up, let alone be ahead of the trends. Pretty much anyone paying attention knows that the future of the web is going in the direction of local, social, and mobile. As a result, any good online marketing campaign must include having a website that is “mobile-optimized” and user-friendly for mobile users. However, there has been a lot of questions and debate over the last few years about how to best create a mobile-optimized website.
Should you create a completely separate mobile site like yourwebsite.mobi? Is it better to set up a redirect that will send a mobile visitor to m.yourwebsite.com? Or should I leave it alone and let people pinch and swipe on their phone?
With the proliferation of new devices, can you image trying to create different versions of the same site for the iPhone, a Wii, and a 3000-pixel width screen? How much work would that take? How much would that cost? Do I need to worry about duplicate content?
Back on May 25th, 2010, Ethan Marcotte wrote an article espousing the concept of responsive design. If you still don’t know what responsive design is or does, you really should read that article.
However, not everyone agreed that this would be the best solution…. until now!
Earlier this year, Duane Forrester of Bing Webmasters Tools went on record recommending responsive design for rending mobile websites. Surprisingly, this announcement went largely unnoticed and sans fanfare. And everyone kept looking to the Big G for their official stance. At the time, Google was rolling out a project where anyone could create a mobile website using free tools. It looked like Google might be going in a different direction.
So here is the BIG NEWS…. Are you ready? You may have aleady heard, but Google has gone on record and officially recommends responsive design as the preferred way to display a mobile-optimized website!
You can read the full announcement on Google’s Webmaster blog. What does this mean?? If you are reading this, you are most likely already a Headway user, which means that you now have a competitive advantage over other designers and developers who aren’t using Headway!
Why? Because Headway offers the option to build your site with responsive design already “baked-in”!
Now you can market your web design business as a company who will “future-proof” your clients website and make them look great on all mobile devices! This makes a better user experience for the mobile visitor, requires
less work for the business owner/web developer, and helps the web eco-system by reducing the volume of content that search engines need to index.
Now here is the biggest reason why our local internet marketing company uses responsive design on almost all of our sites. Simply put, it allows for one single URL for all versions of the site. Why is this important? S-E-O… It has been long debated on the best way to configure your site for mobile SEO. I’ve been firm in my stance that if you are redircting mobile users to a separate mobile URL, you won’t rank as well in the SERPs. Why? Well, who is going to create backlinks to that mobile URL? When was the last time you blogged from your phone or tablet and linked back to a mobile page? My best guess is NEVER. And don’t forget that social shares like re-tweets, +1’s and Likes can be diluted between the desktop version and mobile version of your site. But if you have a responsive design site, your site will rank higher in mobile SERPs because all your links are pointing to the same URL!
Now some critics will argue that page download times will be slower using responsive design for mobile sites. The reasoning behind this is that all the code gets loaded, even if you have content hidden by media queries.
However, if you are leveraging a content delivery network, quality hosting, a good caching plugin, and even CSS sprites, then this really diminishes the issue.
Local Business Rockstar chose Headway Themes as our platform of choice because it is quite obviously ahead of the trends. Drag and drop sure makes it easy to get a professional site created with no coding experience. The live CSS editor allows a beginner or intermediate developer to learn and experiment with CSS code and see the results immediately. Do you have any idea how much time this can save you? And of course, you have the option to implement responsive design for your whole site with just one checkbox! If you don’t want to use responsive design, then you can just leave it unchecked. The icing on the cake is that Headway Themes still has the flexibilty for even the most advanced users to exert their coding genii!
With the trend moving more in the direction of HTML5 and CSS3, endorsement for microformatting by all the major search engines, and support for responsive design by Google and Bing, we are finally on the verge of being able to create awesome sites that will look great regardless of the device and browser! Can you image the day when you can create one version of code and have it work everywhere? That’s why we love Headway Themes! It is the best solution for building responsive design websites that render well across all devices.
As a final tip, please take advantage of the new free tool called Adobe Shadow. This incredbile tool allows you to create and develop your site, and then see the results simutaneously on your desktop, smartphone, and tablet. Or any moblie device for that matter! Between Headway Themes and Adobe Shadow, you can build out amazing websites faster and better than ever.
If you are looking for the best solution to create WordPress websites using responsive design, then we highly recommend Headway Themes!
Eric “E-Rock” Christopher is the founder and CEO of Local Business Rockstar, LLC, a marketing firm that specializes in Local SEO, responsive web design, and helping small business owners create profitable marketing plans. If you would
like to stay ahead of the trends and want some rockstar marketing tips, then be sure to Cirlce them on Google Plus or follow them on Twitter @mylocalrockstar.