Understanding the Growing Need for Responsive Website Design
In today’s fast-paced world, where mobile technology is becoming the new standard, there has never been a greater need to deliver a convenient user experience on the Internet. According to measurement firm comScore, nearly half of the Canadian population accesses the Internet via mobile device (e.g. smartphones and tablets) as opposed to personal computers.1
This means consumers are looking for pool and spa retailers and services online and, most likely, on their mobile device. Therefore, it is important to have a website that works equally well on every device and this can be accomplished with responsive web design.
What is a responsive website?
Responsive website design remains one of the hottest trends for the web as it streamlines the development process for desktop and mobile website design, ensuring consistent content across all device sizes. In essence, the website is built once and it works seamlessly on any screen. For example, if the user is viewing the site on a tablet, the page will ‘shrink/stack’ to function effectively and remain easy-to-read. The same goes for smartphone users. But no matter which device the visitor chooses to use, they never have to resize, pan, or scroll to interact with the site, allowing businesses to deliver the exact user experience they want their visitors to have.
Building a responsive website also eliminates extra effort and money that would need to be invested to build a separate site for mobile users. Responsive websites are built using a grid-like system; it is not a framework or boilerplate design.
Building a new website?
Business owners in the pool, spa/hot tub, or landscaping industry need a website to capture new customers as it serves as a source of inspiration, resources, and eye-candy for those looking to install a pool or purchase a hot tub, patio furniture, or other backyard accessories. It does not matter if the business is small, with revenue coming from local buyers or large, with a full-blown digital strategy. If a company does not have a well-built, well-managed website, it is losing business to other companies that have these strategies in place.
Too many pool and spa/hot tub companies are losing market share for this very reason. The good news is, however, there are other ways to thrive online beyond having a website. If a business is embarking on a new website design, redesigning an existing site, or considering a mobile strategy, there is no reason not to take advantage of responsive website design. Here are seven reasons why:
- Google recommends responsive website design
Google has announced it will be expanding its use of ‘mobile-friendliness’ websites as a ranking signal starting April 21. This change will go into effect across all languages, and Google says it will have a significant impact in its search results, whereby users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results optimized for their devices.2
Google started recommending the use of responsive website design in 2012 as it maintains a single URL (universal resource locator) for desktop and mobile content, which is much easier for users to interact with, share, and link to. Further, it helps Google discover content more efficiently because it does not have to crawl multiple pages to retrieve and index all of the website’s content.
- It is cost-effective
Without responsive design, it is typical that a web design company will build multiple versions of a website for each individual device. Responsive web design offers the benefit of requiring only one website. This means there will only be one version of the code and one management system to update the content, which saves time and money.
- Older websites can be updated
Depending how a company’s website was built (how it was coded), there are two options. Either a complete redesign and/or of the site, which ensures the intended user experience, or sometimes the existing website design and layout can be updated and recoded to work responsively.
- Lower bounce rates
An unresponsive website can lead to a high bounce rate (the amount of visitors that leave a website after visiting one page). Responsive design is proven to cut down on bounce rates because the screen displays the website the way it is intended to be viewed.
- Stay ahead of the competition
Statistics shows only three per cent of websites are currently optimized to take full advantage of responsive design. This means pool and spa/hot tub businesses have a huge opportunity to gain a significant edge over the competition by hiring a professional website design company and jumping on this new trend.
- Guaranteed return on investment (ROI)
All of these benefits have a common thread—they each yield maximum ROI. If a website is not responsive, there is a good chance a business could suffer as it will not be able to compete with rival websites that use this design. To grow a business it has to reach more people than the competition; therefore, a solid mobile strategy is important. A responsive website can help to make sure a company has a larger audience and increase the chances of conversion.
- Customers will appreciate the sleek design
By redesigning a company website, customers will trust the business is doing best by them. Not only will they get a better user experience, they will have the convenience of viewing the site while on the go, which can lead to referrals.
Getting the website’s wheels in motion
Regardless if the website is being built or may have already launched, the goal is for visitors to interact with the company’s website, thus filling out contact information for a quote, purchasing products, or simply sharing information they find. In this case, the website needs to be easy to navigate and have a clear and effective call to action to convert traffic (i.e. turning visitors into paying customers).
To do this, start with the right action by considering what people should do when they visit the website. For instance, should they call? Sign up for a newsletter? Fill out a free quote form? Keep coming back for news and updates? Choose the most important action every visitor should do and make this the call to action focus. Cluttering the page with multiple requests could confuse visitors.
Do not limit the call to action to just the landing page, either. There is an opportunity to inspire action on every page. In effect, different requests can be made depending on the page, but again, make sure it is only one request per page. Repetition is an excellent way to reinforce a message and boost conversions.
Consider form and function
To build website traffic, an effective call to action can take the form of text or a graphic. Maybe it is a simple call-out with text including a phone number to call. Or, it can be an actual form for visitors to fill out and submit. Whichever method is used, make sure it is communicated clearly and the functionality makes it easy for visitors to complete. Most importantly, make sure it is the most visible, highly emphasized element on the page. Here are some tips:
- Make the call-out large enough to stand out, but keep it in proportion to the page;
- Incorporate colour to attract attention;
- Use a compelling design element that complements the website;
- Choose a font that is easy-to-read rather than something decorative; and
- Be consistent with the call to action on every page.
Keep it short and simple
An effective call to action should not be funny, gimmicky, or verbose. Get to the point quickly. To generate traffic to the website, start the call to action with a verb like ‘share’ or ‘get.’ This invites the visitor to pass on some good information or get some benefit for themselves. Consider including a time element, such as ‘now’ or ‘today’ to give a sense of urgency and/or show the site is current and up to date.
Consumers are doing more than surfing the Internet to find particular products and services. Therefore, a pool and spa/hot tub business should be found in all of the places they might be looking—this means using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.
Social media has changed the way people communicate and connect. The digital world has become a central place for businesses to grow, build their brand, and develop relationships. It provides an open channel for conversation and collaboration that can occur anytime, anywhere. Some examples include:
Currently, the appeal of Pinterest amongst Internet users is growing. For many, the purpose is to get and share new ideas, whether it is recipes, design, or fashion. And, when it comes to home improvement, it is a great platform for homeowners to gather information to start planning their project. In essence, users simply pin pictures to their personalized boards and their followers get insight into whatever they think is cool, important, or meaningful.
Imagine what this level of sharing can do for a business? While there is no tool to allow potential customers to buy products or services directly from the site, the marketing potential of a Pinterest business account is staggering. The company’s images (with links back to the original source) can get re-pinned on thousands of other users’ boards.
The popularity of video content is obvious to anyone who uses the Internet. YouTube is at the centre of this revolution. With more than one billion unique monthly users, YouTube is the second-most popular search engine online, which happens to be owned by the most popular search engine—Google. With such an active user base, YouTube is a hot site for businesses looking to promote products and services. It is a great way to show products and services in action.
A blog can help specialized pool and spa/hot tub businesses show why it is an expert in the field. The company and its staff may have knowledge the general public would love to know, so take the time to share it with them via a blog. Turn customer questions into blog posts and articles to promote the business website. Trade tricks of the trade and trends, or provide users with education on the services and products the company knows best.
Now it is built, will they come?
As a business grows, so does the number of people visiting its website. Web analytics provides valuable insight into how a website can better offer visitors what they are truly looking for. Through the use of advanced website analytics tools, a professional website design company can provide the information needed to make sure the website is working at an optimal level.
It is important to know how users are getting to the site, what is leading them to convert (fill out a contact form or make a purchase, for example), and other specifics about how they interact with the site. Through programs such as Google Analytics and/or other tools, a business can improve its website’s ROI by knowing what is working and what is not.
Website analytics provides detailed insight regarding what is actually happening on the site through a variety of reporting capabilities, including:
- Full traffic metric tracking—knowing how many people are visiting the website, where they are coming from, how much time they spend on the site, and more.
- Goal tracking—how many people are filling out forms and where they are coming from.
- Custom reporting—most popular pages, pages people leave the most, keywords people are using to find the website, top geo-targeted locations, mobile usage, and more.
With these tools, a business can create a benchmark for how its website is performing prior to starting a search engine marketing campaign. Then, on an ongoing basis, the data can be measured and analyzed to help improve the results. With this up-to-date information a business can ensure its website is running at its optimal level.
Do not wait much longer
Given the rising use of tablets and smartphones—and the fact users seem to prefer accessing the Internet on the go—responsive website design is poised to take off. If a business is ready to start edging out their competition, contact a professional web design company. They will have the expertise to use responsive design to engage visitors, conversions, and sales to benefit the business.
1 To read more about the comScore report, see the CBC News article (Nov. 12, 2014) Mobile devices used for nearly half of Canada’s web time (Accessed March 9, 2015). For more information, visit http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/mobile-devices-used-for-nearly-half-of-canada-s-web-time-1.2832928.
2 To read more about Google announcement, see the WebProNews article (Feb. 26, 2015) Google Launches New Ranking Signal, Sets Date For Another (Accessed March 9, 2015). For more information, visit http://www.webpronews.com/google-launches-new-ranking-signal-sets-date-for-another-2015-02.
Read Aimee Duffy’s Article on Pool & Spa Maagzine