In this day in age responsive web design has become critical for websites. In fact, statistically speaking, over half of the people that read this post will be doing so from a device other than a computer. Crazy, right! But definitely believable when you take into account all of the smartphones, tablets, smart watches and other gadgets that now exist and have near constant internet access. With that in mind, websites now must be incredibly adaptable to fit the device. Gone are the days of designing a static website for one, single-sized computer monitor. Now designers and developers must create a site that effectively translates visually to any size screen. Enter: responsive web design.
First things first. What is responsive web design? Simply put, responsive design is an approach to web design geared towards creating sites that provide the best viewing and interaction experience at all sizes. Responsive web design aims to allow for easy reading and navigation and also to limit the amount of resizing, panning, and scrolling necessary to reach the desired content. Ideally in doing this, the website becomes available and effective across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones and all screens in between.
So aside from aesthetics, why is this important?
Websites that are not responsive or do not have mobile-specific design coded into their foundation will undoubtedly cause frustration to typically half (as previously mentioned) of the sites visitors. Since users are currently so well adapted to mobile applications and mobile savvy sites, a website that doesn’t work seamlessly in their palm could very quickly lose mobile viewers altogether. In our technologically-charged world, this negative interaction between a user and a website can often translate into how the brand as a whole is viewed by that user. Not good.
Since we have covered the fact that it is an absolute necessity to have a navigable site on various sized devices, we should now look at why responsive design is also the most cost effective choice to do so. Some businesses opt to have a mobile-specific site designed and coded. While it is nice in to have complete control of the visual mobile layout, the cost of having and maintaining two separate sites is usually not worth it. In addition, there are so many varying device sizes these days that even a mobile-specific design may not encompass all smaller-than-desktop viewers. Responsive design also allows content changes to happen seamlessly and with ease across all platforms as opposed to mobile-specific design where the content manager would need to change out (but keep consistent) content on multiple sites.
Lastly, and this is a big one, Google loves responsive websites! If you aren’t familiar with a little thing called search engine optimization (SEO), it’s basically just that. Businesses want their websites to be optimized for search engines (like Google) to find so that when people go to search for a certain product or service, that specific business pops up as high as possible on the list of results. There are multiple factors that play a role in a website’s SEO, but having a responsive website is one fairly simple feature that can provide some of these benefits. Google itself has said that responsive web design is the recommended mobile configuration. Responsive sites use a single URL and using one site address makes it easier to share, interact with, and link to the site’s content.
All in all, responsive web design aids in maximizing a single website’s ability to reach the widest audience in a simple, cost-effective, and beneficial manner. Contact our team here at Cherry Tree Visual if you would like to learn more about implementing responsive design into your businesses website. We’d love to help!
– Callee Mason, Interactive Director, Needle & Hay Creative