Responsive website design - why it's important for your business

Responsive Website – How current web usage demands a responsive approach

If you haven’t heard of responsive website design you have either been living under a rock or simply don’t use a mobile device.

Even if you aren’t aware of the exact terminology you will have most likely come across responsive techniques when accessing a website from your mobile phone or tablet.  If the website resizes to fit the size of your screen, with text that is clear and no need to scroll from side to side to complete sentences then you’re using a responsive site.

 

Responsive web v non responsive design

 

So that’s great.  Websites are being built in a way that accommodates the increasing numbers of mobile users.  But how does this affect the way we use our favourite websites? In several ways really. Let’s explore.

 

When the concept of accessing the internet via a mobile device first came around in 1999 with the launch of the first mobile-specific browser-based web service, the idea of a website that changed size according to the device you viewed it on would probably have seemed quite ridiculous.  However, as technology has moved at such a rapid rate we are now finding that mobile internet usage is the norm.  Responsive technology may be the preferred way to present your content to a mobile audience now but this has not always been the case.

Prior to the popularity of the fluid grid concept of responsive design (it was first written about in 2004), there were two options:

  • Do nothing and hope mobile users won’t mind viewing your site on a tiny screen
  • Develop a mobile app

Mobile apps are effectively separate versions of a website developed purely for a mobile audience. When developed as a web app these sites are usually hosted on a separate domain or subdomain such as yourwebsite.mobi or m.yourwebsite.  When users land on the website they are given the option to visit either the desktop or mobile version of the site, however mobile versions are often over simplified and don’t contain vital elements of the desktop site.  They may also be considered detrimental foroptimisation as the search engines can effectively see two versions of the same site, which could lead to lower visibility and authority in search.

Whilst having a mobile version of your website would have been considered very proactive and progressive a few years ago, the web app is dying a death thanks to the much more organic responsive website design.  These new techniques add value to the existing site as a whole rather than diluting traffic by splitting off into different versions and with tracking code installed onsite, business owners are able to see how many visits they get from each type of device and platform, enabling them to further tailor their internet resources going forward.

Some companies will find that the only way to effectively reach their entire audience is by building both a responsive website and a mobile app – think of the major brands who offer apps in the Google Play Store, iTunes Store or Windows Phone app store for your Android or Apple mobile device.  So which should you choose?

When is responsive web design right for you:
  • If search engine visibility is important – a responsive site can help deliver more traffic to your website
  • If you don’t have a lot of time or a big budget – if you need to upgrade your website now it makes sense to build a responsive one that will cater for your entire audience
  • If you want one site and one URL that is accessible from any device
When is a mobile app right for you:
  • If search visibility isn’t important for your website (search engines cannot index mobile apps)
  • If you have the time and budget to develop something that will adhere to the guidelines set out by the various app stores
  • If you want to deliver a unique experience

The way we access the internet is constantly changing and whilst responsive website design is currently the buzzword in website development, who knows what is just around the corner.

If you would like to discuss your website please contact a member of our team on 01926 887555 or read more

responsive website design