What is Responsive Design and Why is it Important?

If you are unfamiliar with responsive web design, let’s just say that you’ve likely seen a perfect example and not even realized. The reason you didn’t realize it was because it looked the way you expected it to, a great fit for whatever device you were using.

 Responsive design is not a new concept. Metric designer, Heather Wait wrote about it in 2011. Since that time it has grown from an emerging trend into a key consideration for any business or organization looking to redesign or build a new site. However, responsive design is something that can be overlooked, as it may still be a new concept to many. So here are some answers to a few questions that may help you make the important decision about whether a responsive website is the right choice for your business.

What is Responsive Web Design?

A responsive website is one that… well, responds to the device that is being used to access it. Basically this means that whether you are using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or a smartphone, the design will adjust according to the screen resolution.

Why is Responsive Design Useful?

People are using mobile devices to access information from the web more and more each and every day. Having a responsive, mobile-friendly website means that no matter what device is being used, the people visiting your site will get the best experience possible. Without it, you risk the loss of valuable traffic.

Think of it like this; if someone is searching with their iPhone for a product you carry and they come across your site and what they see is hard to read and/or use, they will no doubt look elsewhere.

Having a responsive site not only means that you have a single website to maintain, but you also have only one property to promote. The benefit here is that when performing your marketing activities, you need not extend your budget over a number of properties. All of your inbound marketing and search engine optimization efforts direct your customers to one website, regardless of the visitor’s device.

Responsive Design Alternatives

A responsive design is not your only option but is likely the most efficient way to manage your online presence. Some companies may choose to develop a mobile website, which unlike a responsive site may have a separate domain when a mobile device is recognized. However a challenge arises when translating content from a desktop site to a smaller screen. This means that you need to choose the most relevant information, effectively forcing you to plan for two sites, or even three.

Another option is to develop an app that can be downloaded for your mobile device. While this can be a useful option for some businesses when there is a specific experience in mind, it comes with a significant amount of development cost. Taking into consideration that iPhone, Android, and Windows phones use different operating systems, you will need to create multiple apps for each interface. Also, new features will need to be added to each app, as well as your desktop site.

How Do I Know if a Website is Responsive?

In order to see if your site is responsive, simply open your website in your desktop browser and resize the window. As you resize the window, if you notice that the layout of the website changes, then you have a responsive website.

Important Considerations When Designing a Responsive Website

The first question that may come to mind here is “how much?” However, the question you should first be asking is “who will?” As in, “Who will be using my website?” If you think that people will be searching for your site while on the move, consider how much traffic you could lose if your site isn’t responsive to mobile devices. 

In Conclusion

Responsive design is an important consideration for anybody working with a web design company. With the weight of the world leaning heavily towards mobile, it is hard to argue the benefit of having a site that looks good and operates well on any device. It’s just good business.

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