You’ve heard of Responsive Website Design, here are a few things you should know about it. Responsive Website Design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.
The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities.
In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.
With the staggering growth of mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, and mobile device usage, via games, apps, social media, and websites, it is now essential that your business website is mobile friendly, so that your clients and prospects can easily browse and find information, regardless of what type of device (phone, tablet, desktop, etc.) they are using.
8 Reasons to use Responsive Website Design
- MOBILE USAGE IS ON THE RISE: Currently, more than 58% of American adults own a smartphone and almost 60% of all website traffic is from mobile devices. In fact, there are currently more mobile devices on earth then their are people. And every month mobile usage continues to grow, so every month more and more prospects and customers will view your website from a mobile device. If their experience viewing and interacting with your site is poor, they’ll likely have a lower option of your brand, and they’ll also be more likely to visit a competitor’s site.
- SHOPPING ON MOBILE DEVICES IS STEADILY GROWING: Online shopping is easier than hopping in the car and driving to the store and it is even easier if you can do it in your favorite chair, while watching TV. 80% of consumers regularly use their smartphones to shop online. And 70% of shoppers now use mobile phones while in stores during the holidays. If your products and services aren’t easy to view from a phone, you’re missing out on an opportunity.
- SOCIAL MEDIA INCREASES MOBILE VISITORS: Over 55% of social media consumption now happens on mobile devices, so sharing links from social media sites like, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Google Plus to your website will mean even more traffic and viewing of your website from mobile devices. So if you have a social marketing strategy and want to leverage social sharing of content, get responsive.
- RESPONSIVE SITES IMPROVE SEO RATINGS: Responsive development is Google’s recommended approach for mobile web design. Per Google, responsive websites will perform better in search rankings because they provide a better user experience than sites that are not mobile friendly. Additionally, Google likes that responsive sites use single URLs vs. different URLs for seperate mobile versions of websites. Furthermore, mobile phones now have a separate Google search algorithm as well, so just because your site ranks high via a desktop search doesn’t mean it will continue to rank well for individuals for perform the same search via their phone. This issue becomes even more critical when you consider that mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches since May of 2015! If you think search optimization (SEO) is important, than your site better be responsive.
- ABILITY TO ADAPT TO MULTIPLE DEVICE SIZES: Of course you want your web design to look great, no matter the device or screen size? Then responsive web design is the way to go. But don’t just think about today with smartphones and tablets. Think about tomorrow with smart watches and smart T.V.’s and whatever new device pops up for internet viewing. Responsive web design and development will work for them too.
- ONE SITE IS EASIER TO MANAGE AND INCREASE R.O.I.: There are currently many organizations that actually have two websites: 1) their main site and 2) a second mobile version of their site. This was a fairly common practice before responsive development became the preferred method. That meant mutiple versions to manage and update – inefficiency! With a responsive website design, your site will adapt to each device, providing the relevant layout and content that best meets the users’ needs. It also means that your business will only have one site to manage, meaning you’ll only have to update content one time, regardless of how different people consume your content. That also means lower web content management costs and higher R.O.I.
- RESPONSIVE WEBSITE DESIGN PROVIDES A BETTER USER EXPERIENCE: There are plenty of business reasons to implement a responsive website, but they all connect back to the goal of providing a better user experience for your audience. A responsive site means no more pinching and zooming, and no more side scrolling, to see an entire site that doesn’t fit on a mobile screen. And a better user experience reduces bounce rates, boosts website conversions and improves brand perception.
- RESPONSIVE WEBSITE DESIGN PROVIDES A BETTER BATHROOM EXPERIENCE: Finally, the most disturbing stat about the growth of mobile usage: 75% of Americans bring their phones to the bathroom! That’s certainly gross and it may also be an indicator of the downfall of mankind, but it is true. And if people are going to browse from the restroom, you can at least provide them with a positive user experience.
With more devices come varying screen resolutions, definitions and orientations. New devices with new screen sizes are being developed every day, and each of these devices may be able to handle variations in size, functionality and even color. Some are in landscape, others in portrait, still others even completely square. As we know from the rising popularity of the iPhone, iPad and advanced smartphones, many new devices are able to switch from portrait to landscape at the user’s whim. How is one to design for these situations?
In addition to designing for both landscape and portrait (and enabling those orientations to possibly switch in an instant upon page load), we must consider the hundreds of different screen sizes. Yes, it is possible to group them into major categories, design for each of them, and make each design as flexible as necessary. But that can be overwhelming, and who knows what the usage figures will be in five years? Besides, many users do not maximize their browsers, which itself leaves far too much room for variety among screen sizes.
Just a few years ago, when flexible layouts were almost a “luxury” for websites, the only things that were flexible in a design were the layout columns (structural elements) and the text. Images could easily break layouts, and even flexible structural elements broke a layout’s form when pushed enough. Flexible designs weren’t really that flexible; they could give or take a few hundred pixels, but they often couldn’t adjust from a large computer screen to a netbook.
Now we can make things more flexible. Images can be automatically adjusted, and we have workarounds so that layouts never break (although they may become squished and illegible in the process). While it’s not a complete fix, the solution gives us far more options. It’s perfect for devices that switch from portrait orientation to landscape in an instant or for when users switch from a large computer screen to virtually any mobile device.
For more information on creating fluid websites, be sure to look at the book “Flexible Web Design: Creating Liquid and Elastic Layouts with CSS” by Zoe Mickley Gillenwater, and download the sample chapter “Creating Flexible Images.” In addition, Zoe provides the following extensive list of tutorials, resources, inspiration and best practices on creating flexible grids and layouts: “Essential Resources for Creating Liquid and Elastic Layouts.”