Responsive design is an important approach to web design that involves optimising websites so that they display well on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Specific examples include making all elements resize themselves to fit a mobile screen, picking a font that won't get blurry on a small screen, and spacing out hyperlinks so that they are easy to tap. Responsive design is becoming more and more popular because the proportion of Internet users on mobile devices is becoming quite large and is increasing every year, so they are an important market. Users love responsive webpages if they are on mobile devices, and often completely ignore pages that don't work well on their device. Companies, on the other hand, are hesitant- many don't know how to do responsive design or aren't sure if it is worth the time, effort, and money.
It's tempting to build separate websites for mobile and standard users, but that actually winds up costing more than it saves. First of all, it forces the company to make all updates twice, duplicating work and wasting time. Frequently, companies wind up compromising on the content they release on the mobile version. That puts the mobile users at a disadvantage. While designers can see for themselves how much traffic they get at each site, in general many companies can expect to get at least as many mobile users as desktop and laptop users. It makes far more sense to have one responsive website at one URL to adapt to both kinds of users.
Responsive design is also beneficial for SEO. First of all, it is much easier to target keywords with one unified URL than with two separate ones. Having separate sites means twice the work optimising them both for search engines. Furthermore, having a responsive website lets managers collect detailed user data about the site's visitors, which can in turn drive strategic insights and permit tests of which design elements are most beneficial for converting leads of different kinds and for different products.
The takeaway is that a responsive website is simply a must. It is easy to be at the top of a small or medium-sized business and feel that it won't be cost effective to invest in responsive web design, but the reality is that mobile users are the future. More companies are beginning to embrace responsive design, so it has become a competitive necessity to have a website that is easy for mobile users to browse. It is certainly a major benefit, although that does not mean there is room in the current budget. The cost of adaptation depends on the size of the website, the features on the site, and the content sources.
For good examples of responsive websites, check out the AWWWArds, a set of honors for web design that includes some recognition for good mobile responsiveness. The winners make good use of images that display well and load quickly for all kinds of users, fonts that don't get blurry or distorted on small screens, and unite mobile and stationary sites under a single URL. They also control elements like lines of text and sidebars so that mobile users aren't missing out on content and are not forced to scroll too much to read text or view images on the screen, no matter the size.
It is challenging to keep all of this in mind, especially because there are so many potential different screen sizes for mobile devices. But responsive design is a crucial way to gain the approval of a huge swath of Internet users. Furthermore, earlier this year Google made a major change to their algorithm that pushes responsive sites to the top of results and drops non-responsive ones to the bottom. The result is that responsive design has become a necessary part of SEO, and companies that fail to adapt the standard will lose a lot of traffic to their competitors. If you are a business owner or manager and you want help building a responsive website, or adapting a site that you already own to the mobile-friendly standard, then get in touch with Quantum for advice and design services. We have experience with many different aspects of web design and we can design a site to suit your business's.