Google's recent endorsement of what is known as responsive web design has only confirmed what every well-informed web designer in the UAE already knows: that long-held predictions of mobile becoming central to the online experience have now been realised. The year 2014 is one in which even the most online-phobic businesses have began to seriously investigate adaptive, seamless and responsive technologies for their Internet presence.
If your website is responsive, that means that its layout and content are automatically optimised based on the size of the device accessing it, allowing for the most advantageous viewing experience whether that device is a desktop PC, laptop, phone, tablet, mini-tablet or wearable device. You can gauge the responsiveness of your present site by visiting it and gradually shrinking the browser. A responsive site will adjust its layout and display as you decrease the size of the browser window.
Some sites can be described as adaptive, choosing to display one of a limited number of layouts based on the device that is being used to access them. However, adaptive sites have their drawbacks. Splitting the various pages of a site into desktop and mobile versions also splits the SEO and inbound link equity, which can adversely impact on organic search traffic. Failure to follow Google's best practices in addition to this may lead to duplicate content issues.
Responsive websites also bring SEO benefits in the form of quicker load times, which have been acknowledged by Google as influencing search engine rankings. Adaptive websites load more slowly due to the need for redirects telling the browser how the site is to be displayed. Making your site adaptive rather than responsive also means depending on 'User-Agent Detection' to determine the version of the site that is to be displayed.
User experience and conversion can both be negatively affected by User-Agent Detection, according to Google, due to not only generally slower loading times, but also User Agent mismatches, with the search giant describing it as "a common mistakes for sites ... to inadvertently treat tablet devices as smartphones." There's also a need for the User Agent Table of the site to be continually updated and optimised.
When one also considers the greater costs associated with building and maintaining an adaptive website, as well as the seemingly infinite range of device sizes coming onto the market across the phone, tablet, 'phablet' and other categories, it becomes clear that responsive design is the inevitable necessary direction for online businesses. No good website design company in Dubai should recommend any other solution for local clients, not least given that a responsive site is already optimised for all possible future trends in Internet-ready devices.