Digital Advantage: Mobile continues to rise
If you're still on the fence about whether you should invest your time and resources into responsive or mobile design for your business' website, consider this - back in May, Google's Matt Cutts said he "wouldn't be surprised" if mobile search exceeded desktop in 2014.
So very soon, without a mobile-optimized site, you could be missing more than half your audience.
It wasn't stunning this week to see Google announce it will now warn users when websites listed in their search results contain code not supported by their device.
Essentially, if your site doesn't play nice with smartphones and tablets, you can say goodbye to those traffic sources. IPhones, Android devices, Kindles and all other mobile platforms will be affected.
As Google continues to curate search results, there is no doubt that sites that support multiple platforms and provide a consistent user experience across all devices will be favored. More than a year ago, Google termed responsive design a "best practice." Now, it appears that not following that cue will begin to materially effect search engine results.
While Google is often accused of being heavy handed when it comes to the search engine's mysterious algorithms and unwritten rules, the company has been very active in giving back to the development community through Google's webmaster tools.
A quick visit to Google's Web fundamentals resource can get you well on your way to building a multidevice responsively designed site for your business.
Even if you're not the type to actually build your own site, I would recommend having a look around Web fundamentals if only to better understand what your contractor or agency is building for your business.
If you know you want to move forward with a responsively designed multidevice website, make sure you're dealing with someone who knows what they're doing. Many times, local business owners entrust their Web presence to friends, kids of friends, nephews or other folks they say "know computers" or "get that stuff," when in reality they're just hobbyists or have no idea how to position a business on the Internet in a way that gets real results.
If you entrust your 24-hour digital presence to someone, treat that decision the same way you would treat any other business decision, such as selecting a supplier or critical vendor.
Ask for references, certifications and logic behind the proposal. Do they practice what they preach and have a responsive design website of their own? Have they worked with companies in your industry or similar fields?
I've urged you to make 2014 the year of responsive design for your site, but let's do it right the first time.
Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to the Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas at email@example.com.