Should You Be Responsive or Fast?

Responsive websites were the darlings of 2013. Then Google came out and said that site speed was going to be even more important as a ranking criteria and quality user experience indicator than it was before. This seemed to conflict with responsive websites, which if not properly optimized can bog down and impact site speed. So what’s a small business owner to do? Go for responsive design or go for speed?

The answer is really both, but first let’s look at each aspect to understand their importance.

Responsive websites gained so much notoriety because they are almost a requirement given all the different screen sizes of all the various devices we use to surf the Internet. It is completely impractical and very expensive to write separate websites for each screen size. The market is constantly changing and you would always be a step behind. The rapid growth of mobile has accelerated the need for responsive design. In fact, in 2012, over half of local searches were performed on a mobile device and there are projected to be more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2018.

Mobile users consume information and expect a different user experience than a desktop user. This means having only one responsive website design will make it tough to meet the growing demands of mobile users going forward. Yet, the various sizes of mobile devices will mean the some responsiveness will still be required. This will likely lead to a hybrid responsive mobile approach.

The demands for speed are also on the rise. We are by nature impatient beings. And the faster things respond, the faster still we want them to respond. Google knows this and made speed a more significant factor in how mobile sites rank.

Kissmetrics reports that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. And, 40% of people abandoned a website that takes more than three seconds to load. That isn’t very much time.

Bottom line, is you need to figure out a way to stay as fast as possible and still deliver a high quality responsive design that factors in the mobile user’s needs. If you have to choose one or the other, start with speed and then figure out a way to do the rest.