Responsive design is making some web developers feel very smug and self-confident while raising the rates of User Experience and User Interface engineers everywhere because, Google.
Google co-founder and CEO, Larry Page, has said,
"We don’t necessarily want [our advertisers] to have mobile sites… I find I get frustrated on my phone when I hit these mobile sites… I just find it confusing… As an industry, we need to improve these experiences… I’d almost say that we shouldn’t be designing for mobile. The kind of mobile phones we have now, the state of the art, are a little bit beyond, and those experiences [i.e., full websites] should work on those devices as well. I’d like to see us move in that direction."
So, your Google search ranking on smartphones is going to be impacted if your site does not respond to recommendations put out by the search behemoth. This is something that has been part of Google's recommendations for at least a year, but the impetus for conformity to responsive design has gained greater momentum in the last few months.
In the coming months, Google plans to roll out several ranking changes that will penalize sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users.
Some websites use separate URLs to serve desktop and smartphone users. A faulty redirect is when a desktop page redirects smartphone users to an irrelevant page on the smartphone-optimized website. A typical example is when all pages on the desktop site redirect smartphone users to the homepage of the smartphone-optimized site. For example, in the figure below, the redirects shown as red arrows are considered faulty:
Then there are other things like:
- When you have an interstitial come up to get people to download your app instead of visiting your site on a mobile device, that causes indexing problems. Get smart about your banners and things that pop up at people.
- Using HTML5 for video playback because there is nothing suckier than having your users not get to see your videos on a mobile device.
Be fast. If you doubt anything else. Be fast.
Or, use damn responsive design, dude, because:
- "Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google's algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content." Don't be hating on Google's algorithm.
- Reduce the redirection to mobile sites and other URLs and you reduce loading times. Be fast. I think we mentioned that before.
- Save on resources and make it easier on Google's crawlers because, for a responsive design Googlebot user agents crawl a page once, not multiple times with different user agents when you have different versions of your site. Keep Google fresh, dude.
So, responsive design is good because it doesn't piss off Google's co-founder when he is on the road. It doesn't wear out Googlebots, who are going to take over the world and need all the rest they can get before they become self-aware and start massacring the human race, and it makes things faster for everyone.