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Are you missing a trick with your benefits website design? Technology continues to move on, and this year it took a major leap forward when Google released a significant new algorithm to boost mobile-friendly pages in its search results.

Google aside, how is this relevant to you? Whether we want to admit it or not, the web is now heavily accessed by mobile phones. It means that if you don’t have a mobile version of your website, a large percentage of employees will be unable to use it effectively. Studies show many would like to review their benefits or make choices out of hours, that is, at home or when travelling. But many employees in the manufacturing, retail and leisure sectors depend entirely on mobile communication with their employers during working hours, too.

Responsive web design is now a reality of our time. It enables employees to find the information they want and where the text is readable without tapping or zooming, irrespective of the size of screen they are using. Relevant information is appropriately spaced, and the pages avoid unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.

Being able to offer users a well-optimised experience, regardless of their choice of device, offers many benefits:

  • Better, faster, smarter user experience

Optimising your site, no matter what the employee chooses to view it on, makes their life easier.

  • Increased employee engagement

Employees have more opportunities to view and choose their benefits, including flex, savings and pension and investment options, which increases your engagement with them. This is all the more important with the development of new savings platforms.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Responsive sites take a little longer to put together, but they survive longer and the unified approach means management, support and upgrades only need be applied to one place. This saves time and money.

  • Future proofing

Responsive sites work well across the vast array of existing devices on the market. It’s safe to say they will for some considerable time to come.

How can we do it?

Focus on core content and functionality.

When you are dealing with a screen that is similar in size to an iPhone or less, you have to rethink and design the layout of your traditional desktop website layout. You only have enough space on the screen for the most important and key parts of your website. So if something isn’t absolutely necessary for your clients, then ditch it for your mobile-first design.

Create a fluid design for different devices

These days you can’t afford to adapt your website to the size and layout of every new device that comes onto the market. Who knows when the next iPhone will change screen sizes or resolutions, or when a new tablet is released with completely new dimensions. This is why your Mobile-First design must be fluid, not adaptive.

When your website layout is fluid, it easily flows between any screen size whether you are browsing on an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or  27″ iMac.

Take advantage of exciting new technologies

When putting together a desktop-based design you tend to create it with the knowledge that many of your users may possibly be using old browsers or ageing hardware that can’t support new and exciting technologies like html5. However, with mobile devices, because users are constantly upgrading their phones there are huge possibilities to use new and exciting technologies in your website presence.

For example:

  •   Location information from an onboard GPS
  • Modern browser and hardware acceleration
  • Audio and Video input from onboard microphone and camera
  • Augmented reality
  • Web typography

So, if it’s good enough for Google to change its search criteria, that’s enough of a reason for us to adopt, regardless of whether you rely on search rankings or not. It should be something you consider for your next web project: it’s undoubtedly a smart move for today’s smartphone users.

Tom Radburn is a designer at communication specialists, like minds, specialising in the design of websites, communication campaigns and branding for employee benefit schemes. [email protected]