Here’s a common scenario these days:
You’re reading an article on a news website on your desktop computer. You have to leave for work soon, but that’s no problem – you pull up the website on your phone and read during your commute. Later, after work, you open it on your tablet and bookmark it.
This jump from device to device is normal for internet browsing. More people than ever are reading and surfing the web through their handheld, mobile devices. In fact, for many, this is the only way they browse.
With this in mind, here’s the question you should be asking yourself: Is your website capable of the above acrobatics? Is it usable on a desktop, readable on a smartphone, and browseable on a tablet?
In other words, do you have a responsive website design?
If you don’t, you should.
Why Your Business Needs a Responsive Website
Responsiveness is the present and future of web design trends. If you expect to grow and thrive as a business, your website needs to keep up. Here are some other reasons why you need to use this technology:
1. It Looks Great on Any Device
A responsive website is just that: It responds to the size of a user’s screen on whatever device they’re using. It’s a web development technique that rearranges and resizes images and text so they fit comfortably on any screen and you can easily read them.
However, this resizing still looks amazing after it loads. The look and feel of the site are the same no matter which device you’re using to view it.
2. Responsive Website Design Creates the Best User Experience
What if you don’t have a responsive design? What will your site look like on multiple devices?
In a word, bad. Clunky. Hard to read. Your desktop website will probably load on a smartphone zoomed-out and tiny. With its large images, oodles of links, and expansive spread of information, it will be unwieldy. Users will have to pan and pinch the screen themselves and read it piecemeal.
The truth is, most people aren’t willing to do this anymore. It’s time-consuming and annoying. In fact, most expect to encounter websites that will look good on their favorite device. When they come across a clunky mess, they will leave instead of dealing with the inconvenience.
In stark contrast, a responsive website design creates a seamless user experience. They won’t have to think about your site’s look and feel other than noticing it’s pleasing. They can use it with no hiccups, and that’s the point.
3. You’ll Improve Your SEO
A responsive design will improve your SEO because it will improve the user experience, and encourage more traffic and a lower bounce rate.
Visitors who have a better experience on your site will stick around longer, which is good for your site’s relevancy. Plus, Google recommends responsive design – and Google is one of the main entities we’re trying to impress.
How to Use Responsive Web Design
Using responsive design on your website means a few different things. First, you should understand that a responsive website is different from a mobile-friendly website.
1. Understand That Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Are Not the Same Thing
A mobile-friendly website is one created just for mobile devices. It’s a separate site from your desktop-friendly one. These two sites run side-by-side.
This is an issue, though, because if you have coexisting versions of one site, they’ll end up competing against each other in the SERPs (search engine results pages). You’ll also divide your traffic between them, hike up your maintenance costs, and generally make life difficult.
On the other hand, responsive design happens on one page. Your website is one entity, and it’s not split between different versions. Visitors access one web address and the screen will resize and reorient itself based on which device they’re using.
It truly is a smarter way to exist on the web. If you’re on board, there are a few other factors to keep in mind when using responsive design.
2. Web Developers Need to Abandon Specificity
Web developers need to move toward flexibility and away from specificity. Creating website elements with pixel-specific dimensions, absolute values, and fixed positions doesn’t work. For a website to be responsive, the layout must be able to shift, resize, and respond.
This means responsive images, too, and sizing elements relative to the screen size and the other elements on the page. Your web developer should be well-schooled in these concepts.
3. Stay Mindful of Site Load Times for Responsive Images
Multiple versions of one page can get tricky when it comes to image sizes. Huge, crisp images that load quickly on a desktop will be too large and bulky to load on a smartphone. Long load times can give your ranking a hit, too, because Google will penalize you. As such, you need to figure out how to balance image quality with image size when creating a responsive design.
Web Design Trends Like Responsive Design Are Here to Stay
If your website isn’t responsive, you’re living in the past.
Most users want and expect a seamless browsing experience from their desktop to their mobile devices. They don’t want to notice a difference when they switch from one to the other. Even further, people who only use smartphones and tablets to browse the web don’t want a sub-par experience.
Since this type of browsing and searching is rapidly becoming the norm, you have to keep up. It’s important for not only a good user experience, but also SEO. The better your site works for visitors, the better it works for Google.
Plus, a responsive design is helpful for you, too. You’ll save on maintenance costs because you won’t be running multiple versions of your website. You’ll also keep traffic flowing into one hub without competing against yourself. It’s a win-win no matter which way you look at it.