At the end of 2014 mobile internet usage finally surpassed desktop usage, as was predicted a decade ago. Unfortunately, many sites are still focused on only desktop experience, so soon after Google decided to introduce a new algorithm that would penalize websites if they are not mobile-friendly by lowering their search results ranking, which is just one of their 200 ranking factors.
The reason Google was forced to implement this new parameter is due to the predictably dissatisfied mobile users. In fact, metrics showed that over 60% of mobile users who landed on a non-mobile friendly website are significantly less likely to ever return to it.
Initially, this change resulted in some confusion and growing pains as companies and private entities started creating two kinds of websites for the same content, one for desktop and one for mobile.
Of course, this proved to be extremely ineffective as you would then need to create a different version of the same website for a wide range of devices, screen sizes and resolutions. In addition, Google would have to index multiple versions of the same site, which would interfere with search engine optimization, which is why Google not only prefers a mobile-friendly website but also a responsive website design.
Furthermore, note that even the upcoming Windows 10 will be tailored to offer the same experience across all devices, no matter their size. If an entire operating system is geared towards 100% flexibility you know that a new standard is being established, and you should jump on it sooner rather than later.
And this is where the responsive web design comes in.
Responsive sites automatically adjust their viewing area to the screen size of the device currently being used to view it, be it a tablet, smartphone or a desktop.
Although it takes a little longer to set up, a responsive web design more than compensates for it by solidifying all content at one place, one version, and future-proofing it for upcoming new devices like smartwatches, TVs and AR glasses.
Another important metric one has to take into account is that responsive web design lowers the page content load times, which is critical if you do not want to lose potential viewers. Google figured out that the optimal load time for the top portion of the page should be under 1 second, and for the entire page under 2 seconds. Such short times are not possible for desktop designed websites loaded onto a mobile device.