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Why Design Responsive Websites?

The way we look at websites has changed dramatically in the past 18 months. You may be reading this on a laptop, or you’re at your desk reading the words on wide screen display. Or – perhaps even more likely – you’ve got a smartphone in your hand and you’re browsing the site whilst on your way to another meeting.

It’s not surprising that current market research points to mobile internet usage as the largest growth market for internet searches. This change in device usage undoubtedly means we need to be considering how we engage with users to offer the best online experience for our brands and services. Our website need to be up to the task, which means they need to be ‘Responsive’?

HISTORICALLY…
In the earliest days when mobile phones started to become internet enabled people wanted to access certain information on the move. Checking train times, the weather, or checking the footy scores. On a standard desktop site this would incur difficult navigation with slow downloads and an all-round poor user experience.

Some Businesses have catered for mobile users with a separate “mobile” version of their website. Although a step in the right direction, the downsides to this approach was these mobile sites were completely separate from their larger desktop version, often with reduced functionality and content. There is also the logistical problems of building, managing and maintaining two sites and ensuring they information is consistent and up-to-date on both – Not an ideal scenario!

The other big issue with mobile sites is what mobile devices do you build them for? There are too many different screen sizes and differing capabilities to do them all so which do you choose? How many would you need?

With a Responsive Web Design the answer is that you only need one site and it will work effectively across all the possible devices that it is viewed on.

WHAT IS RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN?

Responsive Web Design allows a website to flex and adapt to the size of screen it’s being viewed on. Someone viewing your site on a small smartphone will be shown the same site as the person opening it on their laptop, however the site will have noticed the constraints and automatically reformatted the way the information is displayed to give the user an experience better suited to their device. No more loading a huge website and having to zoom in and out to find the content you’re looking for. Responsive web design also takes into account interaction too and makes your site easier to use by acknowledging and integrating things like touch screens to aid navigation.

As the web continues to evolve it’s becoming ever more clear that the main driver to a website is solid, valuable, and shareable content. A responsive design allows the information the implications of limited screen real estate and ease of access not only for structure but forces us to consider our messaging and content on-site by adopting a ‘mobile first’ strategy.

MOBILE FIRST

“There simply isn’t room in a 320 by 480 pixel screen for extraneous, unnecessary elements. You have to prioritize.” – Luke Wroblewski

Previously we designed for desktop users first, and a mobile version was either a far too minimal functional experience or we were trying to force too much of our desktop site into it unnecessarily. Deciding what is most important to a viewer on a mobile device with limited bandwidth, processing power and screen size means we get rid of anything diluting our main purpose or message and therefore, across all sizes of the site, we are focussed and concise in offering a better experience to our customers.

“…when a team designs mobile first, the end result is an experience focused on the key tasks users want to accomplish… That’s good user experience and good for business.” – Luke Wroblewski

BENEFITS

So now (hopefully) you understand what responsive web design is, perhaps we should have a run down of the benefits.

Future proofing. Responsive sites work well across the multitude of existing devices on the market. It’s a safe bet it will for considerable time to come.

Better, faster, smarter user experience. Optimizing your site no matter what the user chooses to view it on makes their life easier. Happier customers means a happier business.

Cost Effective. 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. That saves time and money.

SEO optimised. Managing SEO for separate mobile and desktop sites is hard and doesn’t produce great results. Google actually recommends a responsive approach to combat these problems and a consolidated view of your results means more focus.

Improve conversion rates. An optimised and consistent site, no matter what platform it’s viewed on, provides a better experience for the user which is more likely to lead to them engaging with you than going elsewhere.

WE ♥ RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN.

Responsive web design isn’t a trend any more, it’s a must. Being able to offer consumers a beautiful optimized experience regardless of their choice of device means you’ll have expanded the reach of your service and the chances you have of engaging with individuals. The long lasting nature of this approach is incredibly valuable and the cost effectiveness is a clear advantage.

MORE LINKS

“Responsive Web Design”

“Mobile First” Presentation

“Mobile-First Responsive Web Design”

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