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Responsive Responsibility: Developer or Carrier?

‚ÄčOne of the biggest things these days is having a website that is mobile friendly, especially after Google’s recent search algorithm update that changed the game for websites that are not optimized for mobile. In fact, way back in 2013, 46% of searchers used mobile exclusively to research a product or company. Today, mobile traffic is about 30% of all internet activity globally. I found 49 mobile search stats for 2015 that make it pretty clear that mobile is important.

But how important is it to have a website that is responsive for ALL devices? Just the other night, I had a potential client tell me that he couldn’t get information from my website because my site took forever to load on his iPhone 4. When he showed it to me, I noticed a few things that come into play with mobile web. The network that this iPhone 4 was on was Sprint, which has notably bad coverage in my area and the iPhone 4 still runs on 3G technology. Editor’s Note: Since this conversation happened, I’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure my site loads properly on mobile devices.

So, how much of that is on the developer? Why wouldn’t the device and mobile network carrier factor into this equation? In all honesty, it is up to any reliable developer to build the best site possible that will be functional for the largest number of visitors, be it on a desktop or mobile device. Anyone worth his salt knows this, especially with Google’s recent search change that ranks sites without a mobile responsive site much lower. This also allows me to segue into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general. Page load speeds play a major role in search rankings as well. Search Engines are trying to give their searchers the best experience possible, and won’t send people to your site if their search spiders can’t crawl your site fast enough. Your slow site will exist on the web, but no one will find it, and that isn’t good for you or your business.

Really, the answer is the developer, and not the device/carrier. It is the developer’s responsibility to create a site that will be user friendly, easy to navigate and loads quickly on mobile devices, no matter who the service provider is. That means using techniques like smaller images and simple stylings with media queries to allow for different layouts based on the screen sizes, all without any degradation on the original design of the website.

To this client’s point, lesson learned. And, get a new phone.

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