What Is Responsive Website Design? Let’s begin with the basics. Responsive website design is one that will reformat itself to look great on any device. Screen size doesn’t matter, the website is coded to reform itself to the size of the screen of the end user. Sounds like some futuristic science fiction stuff, right?
The plain and simple truth is, responsive websites are amazing. If you’ve never taken the time to look at a mobile-friendly website, it’s time. Head to the web for some scientific experimentation with your favorite websites.
Next time you’re on the internet, take a hard look at your favorite website. If the website you’re viewing has been updated in the past year, it was probably created with responsive website design.
Here’s a little test to see if you’re looking at a mobile-friendly website. If you are in full screen mode, here’s how to reduce your window size. Click the little button in the top right of your browser window to reduce the size of your window (or top left if you’re a Mac user).
When you clicked that button, did the information on the page change at all to fit the new size of the window? If it did, you’re more than likely looking at a responsive website.
There are numerous benefits to responsive website design. Here are some of the best reasons to make the switch today.
Not too long ago, Google issued a decree that all websites should be responsive. Also in April 2015, Google gave a ranking boost to all pages on the internet optimized for mobile.
Which mobile devices? Great question. The mobile devices referred to in this update were devices of cell phone size. (Meant to be used with one hand. Not tablets.) It’s important that your website can be viewed on tablets, but more on that later. Simply put, the smartphone has taken over the search volume of the internet.
For some businesses, this change didn’t affect them at all. Businesses that don’t rely on search engine traffic for lead generation didn’t even notice. Other businesses that relied on search engine traffic for new leads, well, they noticed. Walls came falling down around them where they were standing.
At the time, we were working with a company that was ranking #1 for the search term that defined their industry. They were getting hundreds of hits per day to their website because of a simple three word ranking.
Google released this new update, and all of a sudden their web traffic and new business plummeted. Imagine 7-8 new leads every day coming from Google that were gone.
Talk about a shock to the system for them. Their marketing department went into overdrive to try and plug the hole to no avail.
They needed an entire website redesign to meet Google’s new qualifications. Their website was coded about 6 years prior in a static design. Responsive website design could give them a major boost in their search engine rankings.
The Fusion Creative team jumped to action and helped them redesign their website fast. They were back to their #1 spot in the search engines in just a few months.
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If you live in any populated area of the world, you probably haven’t made eye contact with a person for a few years now. Almost everyone you run into on the street is adamantly focused on that little device in their hand.
Love it or hate it, the smartphone is here to stay for the time being. It has become the standard for the device that we keep in our pockets that used to just make phone calls.
Our smart devices seem to be getting smarter by the day. In 2015, Google released an announcement that more than half of all searches were now done on mobile devices. For the first time in history, the smartphone was outpacing the personal computer for internet search.
If we want our businesses found on the web, we need to be compatible with a 4 inch screen. The chance that a potential customer is viewing our website on a laptop or a desktop is less than 50% today. We need to make sure we give our business the greatest chance of being found.
We can’t sit around and think this is a passing fad. To keep up with changing technology, our websites have to be ready. Responsive website design is the best way to make sure your site is ready for all devices.
Tablet devices also play a big part in why responsive website design is a good thing for your website. Tablet devices come in all shapes and sizes. Screen resolutions and sizes are so different, that could be a whole other article.
For a website to look great on a tablet, it needs to work in both portrait and landscape views. In writing this article, I spent some time thinking about how I use my tablet for buying decisions.
As a business owner, I rarely get to experience downtime. When I do, I admit to having my tablet on my lap most of the time.
I’m browsing articles about SEO or reading my favorite bloggers while watching a show. I sometimes even make purchases while I’m surfing the web. I certainly do almost all my search engine work on my tablet.
If I’m looking for something online, there’s something that just makes me pick up my iPad. It’s automatic for me. It’s almost a reflex that when I need to find something, I go to my iPad.
My guess is it’s the same for many consumers out there. Consumers who you want to market to and sell to.
If you’re not playing on the responsive playing field, are you really playing?
With the amount of smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop screens, there is no longer a default size. I began typing this article on my laptop computer. Later, I moved to my tablet for an off-site work session. Later, I finished it on my smartphone for final draft edits.
I myself am guilty of working with websites on all types of devices.
No default screen size or resolution means web developers have to follow rules. These rules instruct the website how to act in various settings.
Many levels of instruction create the back end of a website. These rules tell it when to reorient itself from a horizontal layout to a vertical layout. They also tell a website when to no longer include certain elements on a page if the page size gets too small.
For example, let’s look at a large animated graphic on your home screen. This picture might look incredible on a laptop or desktop screen. When you view that same image on a smartphone, much of the text included in the widescreen layout is missing. This results in a less than desirable result for your end users.
On another page, you might have a great story that you’re telling to engage your audience. Within that story, you may have embedded a few pictures. When you view this article on a mobile device, the images all of a sudden are too large. Compared to the size of the text, the images are out of proportion.
Planning for all sizes and all types of devices is the difficult task of your brave local web developer. Maybe you should buy them lunch and say thanks next time you see them, eh?
Have you ever used a mouse with your smartphone? You probably haven’t, right? Almost since its introduction, the smartphone has been a touch operated device.
When we press the screen with our fingers, we expect things to grow and shrink at our touch. We expect elements to bend to our finger’s command. It’s assumed that our simple press of a screen will control all view-able elements.
You can operate a non-responsive website by touch. An unresponsive site will always make you work to accomplish any task.
Responsive website design automatically resizes itself for the device size you’re using. The pinch and zoom method is not necessary to interact with the content. You can still navigate around and zoom in if you want to see something enlarged.
The difference is, pinch and zoom are not necessary to view the site. This is a plus for user experience and for your brand.
Have you ever stopped to take a look at the difference a responsive website makes on a mobile device? The difference is stunning.
Using responsive website design, all the text is readable and the images are full screen and beautiful. Non-responsive sites almost always load with text that is too small to read. Images that only fill a portion of the screen are also common on a unresponsive site.
Using a graphical tiled picture background (shudder) on a non-responsive site is problematic. With an unresponsive site you’re probably seeing the picture 3 times on the screen. It’s just not great for mobile devices to try to engage static websites.
Remember when you needed a mobile website or app in addition to a website? I don’t know about you, but I remember those days.
Whenever I wanted to update something, I had to do it twice. I needed to make sure that both said the same thing and listed the same prices. It was a bugger.
Happily, with the birth of responsive website design, there’s no longer a need to have two websites. One responsive website is all that you need to be ready for every device type.
One of the biggest challenges with having a website and a mobile site was duplicate content. Making sure both sites had the same information without duplicate content was a bear.
I remember more than once getting a duplicate content penalty. Forgetting to change my content and finding out I received a penalty wasn’t fun. Helping a company’s rank is much easier with today’s modern responsive websites.
It’s incredibly nice now to have the responsive website option available to small businesses. With the benefit of responsiveness, there’s just the one site to manage. One site to develop and nurture content on the web to engage your clients and customers. You should try it.
My hope is that this gives you a little glimpse into how responsive websites work. They have changed the game for small business owners all over the world.
Upgrading your website to make it responsive doesn’t have to break the bank or be a lengthy process. There are companies like Fusion Creative that are ready to help you make the switch. (We’re just biased because we know our low monthly price and fast launch time is second to none.)
If you haven’t yet upgraded to responsive website design, what are you waiting for?
David works every day to help businesses turn clicks into customers. He's the CEO of Fusion Creative - a digital marketing agency located in Indianapolis, IN.