Why We Are Going Responsive

When universities or corporations redesign their website, the trend is to ‘go responsive.’ There are a few important reasons, beyond being trendy:

  • Mobile usage is exploding: More than 33% of our web traffic is on a mobile device and that percentage increases every few months. Our Athletics website has already seen “the flip” where more of their traffic is via mobile than any other platform.
  • Consistent user experience: if your customer is used to your desktop website, they should have a similar experience on a tablet or mobile phone. This is ensured by serving them a responsive website that adapts to their screen size. We believe in serving the same content, regardless of the screen size. Smartphones are fully capable of displaying all of the content that a desktop machine can.
  • It is recommended by Google: Google will boost your search engine rankings if a user is searching on a mobile device and your website is ‘mobile friendly.’ Although Google also values a separate version of your website as being ‘mobile friendly’, they recommend that your website be responsive.
  • Cost effectiveness: in the long run, it is easier to make your website responsive than it is to maintain two or more separate versions of your website. With multiple website copies, it is easy to be lazy and develop for ‘desktop only’ and then have to redevelop for the other screen sizes. A responsive website puts the focus on all screen sizes and one code base.

The Importance of Mobile

Administrators and others who are not trained web professionals often overlook the importance of having a fully functioning mobile website. Sitting at a desk all day can make you forget that this is not how everyone accesses your website. Think of your friends and family members who don’t even a computer now that they have a tablet.

The Pew Research Center has some excellent information about mobile device usage:

From those reports, these statistics especially stand out to Michigan Tech:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 Americans relies on a smartphone for accessing the Internet either because there isn’t “any other form of high-speed Internet access at home” or because of a “limited number of ways to get online other than their cell phone.”
  • 7 percent have neither broadband service nor other alternatives for going online other than their smartphone
  • Younger adults: Fifteen percent of Americans ages 18-29 are heavily dependent on a smartphone for online access.

Here are some other statistics that were discussed during the 2015 HighEdWeb Annual Conference:

  • 60% of college freshman say the visual environment is the deciding factor for college choice.
  • 40% of students use mobile devices to view any website “all the time”
  • 88% of juniors and 86% of seniors find college websites through search engines.

Putting Our Best Foot Forward

In order to reach the audiences that we want, moving our websites to a responsive design is not just a desire—it is a must. We’re excited to be putting our best foot forward to better serve our users and to reach a wider portion of our target audience. Going responsive is not a trivial initiative, but we’re ready for the challenge.

Joel Vertin
Digital Services Manager