Google Weighs in on Responsive Website Design

3 min. read | Last updated: October 28th, 2015

Recently we’ve noticed that Google has switched to a partial responsive web design for their maps on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). They’re also now recommending that mobile sites be built using responsive design.

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design has been gaining traction in recent months within the web design community. It’s a relatively new way of designing sites to detect a visitor’s browser size and customize the page display to match. You’ll know you’re on a responsive design site when the images change size and the page layout shifts as you resize your browser.

Smashing Magazine’s Responsive Design

Smashing Magazine provides an excellent example of responsive design. Take a look at how their page layout shifts with decreasing browser size.
At 1640 pixels wide:

At 1440 pixel width:


1185 pixels:

1000 pixels:

720 pixels:

400 pixels:

Google’s Partially-Responsive SERP

Google hasn’t gone into a fully responsive design for their search results pages, but they’re moving in that direction.

Take a look at the following screenshots of the Google SERP taken with different browser widths. Notice how the map in the right column changes in size at different browser sizes.

Here’s the SERP at 1180 pixel browser width:

 

Here’s a 1090 pixel browser view (notice the narrower map):

 

And here’s the smallest map for any browser below 1000 pixels wide:

 

Different map sizes are pulled in depending on the size of the browser. This isn’t just a re-scaled version of the same map. It refreshes with a different size as the browser size changes. That’s at least a partial move toward responsive web design for the SERP.

Google Prefers Responsive Web Design

Recently Google also went on record promoting responsive web design as their preferred method for mobile sites.

Google isn’t using a fully responsive site design for their SERPs yet, but I anticipate this is where they’ll head if they take their own medicine.

As WiderFunnel goes into our own cycle of refreshing our site for mobile, we’ll take Google’s opinion into account, and you probably should too.

Author

Chris Goward

Founder & CEO

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