As smartphone usage continues to sky-rocket, ensuring that your websites and blogs provide on good experience to smartphone users is becoming more and more imperative. While there have been discussions about the best way to implement a mobile-friendly website, it looks like a winner is emerging: responsive web design. Here are some recommendations from Google for smartphone-optimized sites:
When building a website that targets smartphones, Google supports three different configurations:
- Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration.
- Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device.
- Sites that have a separate mobile and desktop sites.
When mobile devices first began to appear, the problem was that they couldn’t display the “regular internet” (or the desktop/browser internet). During this transition period, web developers came up with a variety of different workarounds for displaying websites on mobile devices. While these different techniques offered temporary solutions to mobile user experience problems, they also created several new problems. Some these issues impacted how sites might perform in search results.
Responsive web design solves many of these problems by adjusting a site’s layout based upon from what device the site is being accessed. Therefore, the same pages can be effectively viewed on a desktop, tablet or phone without creating alternative mobile pages, etc.
And because responsive designs use CSS to format site layouts, they also avoid many of the search engine-related issues that arise from other implementations.
If you’re interested in learning more about the power of responsive web design, I recommend you check out this presentation by John Polacek.
And of course, if you’re searching for a responsive designer/developer for your law firm website or blog, be sure to inquire as to whether they are familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If not, consider involving someone who is throughout the design process.
(Photo by: http://johnpolacek.github.com/scrolldeck.js/decks/responsive/)