Responsive Web Design and UCO 

In response to the growing popularity of accessing web pages on mobile devices, Google recently implemented updates to their indexing methodology. Google now gives priority in its search results to websites that are responsive – meaning these sites adapt, or respond, to the screen size of a mobile device.

Key takeaways of Google’s recent update include:

  • The change will only impact searches performed on, and results delivered to, mobile devices. Desktop searches are not impacted. On average 76% of the monthly visitors to UCO.edu do so by way of a desktop computer.

  • The new search methodology is performed in real-time. As web pages become responsive Google will update their search results rapidly.

  • The update operates on a page-by-page basis. Google will not give low priority to entire website only those pages which are not yet responsive.

While the UCO website displays fully and completely on mobile devices, our current design is not considered responsive by Google. The Office of Information Technology is aware of this the situation and research is ongoing for development of a responsive web design strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does UCO have mobile friendly sites?
Yes and no. One thing to keep in mind is that “mobile-friendly” and “responsive” are not the same thing. When we implemented the current UCO website design in 2009, the definition of “mobile friendly” was that the site displayed on your mobile device without the need to pinch down, rather you would zoom in to view specific sections of the site to read content. As technology has progressed, sites are expected to be “responsive” meaning that the size of the website and the content displayed is determined by the size of the viewport on which you are viewing the website. Following the 2009 definition, the websites managed in the university’s web content management system are mobile friendly. Any new sites designed using new templates (UCO@125, Jazz Lab, CHK | Central Boathouse) are responsive.

How will existing websites transition to mobile friendly or responsive?
As the university begins to develop and roll out responsive web site designs, a new template will be developed for all web pages. As a result all current UCO web pages must be rebuilt using this new template, which includes programming language to make the website responsive.

What is the Office of Information Technology and University Relations doing to ensure we have mobile friendly and marketable sites?
The level of effort associated with rebuilding the new responsive templates is comparable to that of building new responsive templates with a new design (look and feel). To maximize efficiency, we will align the efforts with the university branding initiatives. University Relations is working with consultants at TWG Plus to implement a market research-based “brand refreshment” in the fall 2015 semester. The brand refreshment will require a new design for UCO.edu and its templates. University Relations and the Office of Information Technology will work together on this project, which will include a mobile responsive design.

Since UCO already has some responsive websites, why can’t I rebuild my website using one of those templates?
New sites delivered to UCO include responsive technologies, but those sites were developed with a specific marketing and branding initiative in mind which requires the development of new templates. At this time, responsive templates are not available for the standard UCO website design. However, once funding is available and the branding refreshment initiative is implemented, a Website Redesign Project will follow. This project will include as a requirement responsive web templates. The implementation of these new templates will be prioritized by a task force with preference given to those with website assets prepared for the transition (accessible and complete content, including copy and images).

Why not grant exceptions to those requesting?
It’s simply a matter of available resources. Right now, we are focusing on the next steps for the greater UCO web presence (like the upcoming site redesign) as well as fulfilling the ongoing duties of the Web Services department. We do not have the resources to support the exceptions requested. It would ultimately result in the unnecessary duplication of efforts - rebuilding our current web and then rebuilding our newly designed web when that time comes. This would require outside contract resources as well as the full capacity of OIT Web Services resources, limiting the capacity of current operational work processes.

What can we do to be prepared for the next steps?
Continuing to clean up your existing website is always a best practice. You or your website manager should be receiving reports on accessibility and quality assurance. This information is being tracked for continuous quality improvement. Reducing broken links and misspelled words as well as accessibility errors will improve search rankings just as mobility will. More importantly, this will provide for a better user experience. This will also improve your site for transition when the time is appropriate.

If you like, you may submit a request for 1:1 consultation on your website. A 30 minute to 1 hour session to discuss the plans for your website will help prepare you for the next steps and assist you with any current clean up necessary. You can request this time by submitting a UCO Service Desk request to Support@UCO.edu for “Web 1:1 consultation.”

If you have additional questions, please contact the UCO Service Desk at 405-974-2255 or by email at support@uco.edu.