Did you know that 25% of Americans will only access the internet from mobile devices? By the end of 2014, 79% of all online traffic is expected to go through mobile devices. And it’s not just teenagers—56% of American adults own a smartphone. Does your church have a responsive website to accommodate all that mobile traffic?
What is responsive design?
Responsive web design refers to a website that will automatically adjust to fit the device a viewer is using—“one site for every screen.” So whether you’re pulling up your church website on an iPhone or a desktop, you’ll largely see the same content, but in the ideal format for that particular screen size.
But we have a mobile app!
A mobile app typically provides tools like event registration, giving, and check-in for the church community. As Steve Fogg explains, church apps “are for insiders, mobile web is for outsiders. That means that if a church is on a mission it should also create an experience crafted for the great commission.”
So while a mobile app is a wise investment for your church, it’s your website that will make the first impression to potential visitors. If they’re just trying to learn more about you before they attend a service, why would they install your app—or even know you have one?
Why Responsive Design?
Some churches are sticking to their regular websites and are not adjusting to the shift toward mobile. Others are opting for mobile websites. But responsive design is still the best option for most churches.
If a website is not responsive and requires a lot of pinching or scrolling, 99.5% of mobile users will not proceed past the homepage.
A responsive design usually renders the best experience for mobile users. Mobile sites require a redirect which will slow down load speeds—and most people won’t wait. But they’ll probably stick around longer with the improved usability of a responsive website.
And with only one URL—rather than a separate URL for a mobile website—responsive websites offer simplicity to potential visitors.
A responsive site will also provide a more consistent and fluid user experience.
For Your Church
Although a responsive website could mean some extra work or cost for your church in the beginning, it will be much easier to manage in the long run. You’ll only have to manage and maintain one website—rather than two separate sites—and duplicate content won’t be an issue.
It also means only one SEO campaign to monitor. If you’re sending people to both a desktop site and a mobile site, you’ll do twice the work to get people there. With a responsive website, all links will go to that single site rather than splitting traffic, and your organic search traffic won’t be negatively impacted.
Responsive design is also Google’s recommended configuration. Googlebots will only need to crawl your responsive website once (rather than multiple times with different agents for a mobile site). According to Google’s Webmasters, “this improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site’s contents and keep it fresh.”
In fact, your website could be penalized if you don’t adjust. Google is currently testing a variety of methods to help mobile users identify mobile-friendly websites in search results. But these changes could also negatively impact websites that don’t respond well to mobile devices.
With 67.5% of search engine queries coming through Google, you’ll want to keep them happy.
With one URL, one set of content, one code, and one experience for all devices, responsive design is probably the best option for your church.
Check out these resources for more information on responsive websites: