Responsive web design

There are many reason why you should be making sure that your website is fully responsive and can be viewed across various devices such as desktop computers with varying screen sizes, mobile phones, tablets etc.

In this article I hope to give you some background on what responsive we design means and how it can help you and your potential customers.

What is responsive web design (RWD)

Responsive design is the process of optimising the layout in a way that all the important information is presented in an optimal viewing way; ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling in any kind of device or screen size.
The content of your website will adapt in a fluid manner to accommodate the viewer’s device screen. This may well mean deciding which elements get resized or even removed.
This eliminates the need for a different design and development phase for each new device, such as mobile phone or tablet on the market. It also means that you have a single website to maintain as a separate mobile optimised site would not be required.

Main benefits of RWD

User Experience

It’s just not good enough to allow the devices to scale down your site to fit the users screen as 9 times out of 10 it will create a bad user experience. Sometimes rendering your website unusable without the user zooming in and dragging your site around their screen, they will soon leave your site never to return. According to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, there is a 61% chance that users abandon sites that are difficult to use, they may well end up at your competitor’s website.

Smartphone users, on average, check their phones 150 times per day, so they are more likely to also be surfing on many of these occasions, in fact 34% of users are likely to surf via their mobile device.

With this in mind it makes sense to project your company in the best light possible to prospective clients and information consumers no matter which platform or device they are using.

Consistency of Content

It makes complete sense to create and manage your content once, both to save your time and of course money. No more making sure that you have the same content on your desktop as your mobile site.

Budget

By adopting RWD you can drastically reduce the management and cost of 2 separate sites and all of the maintenance that goes with them. Your budget will go much further with only a single website to manage. This is particularly true if you outsource the management of your website to developers.

Put simply, 1 website is cheaper than 2 to maintain.

SEO and Google

In April, 2015 Google officially claimed that responsive design will affect search rankings on mobile devices. This is important to Google because their mantra is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” RWD achieves this with its fluid capabilities.

If you already run separate sites for desktop and mobile Google will probably penalise you for duplicate content within your domain. By providing a single, dynamic version of your website to both desktop and mobile visitors, you make it easier for search engines to understand and serve your content.

In SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) you need to know and manage a lot of critical information to get the best from Google and other search engines. For example bounce rate. Search engines interpret a high bounce rate to mean the content was not relevant to the user and will decrease your site’s rank accordingly. Responsive design still lets you display relevant content the user is looking for.

Efficiency

Adopting RWD allows you to create once and publish too many devices giving you the most efficient way of maintaining your web presence for the least cost.

Ok, that all makes sense but do I really need a responsive website?

Well, hopefully you will have been collecting statistical information from the Google or other analytics on your existing website. This is a great place to start deciding if you need RWD or not, just take a look at the traffic by device and this should give you a great insight into your audience.
Even if you see a low mobile usage and high bounce rates within your analytics, there is probably a usability reason at the root of the low viewing figures.