Whether you’ve been building and managing websites for some time or you’re just taking your first steps towards becoming a website owner, there’s no doubt that you will have come across the term ‘responsive web design’ at least a couple of times on your journey?
But what exactly does it mean?
Why is responsive web design important for you and your site, and -most critically of all- what do you need to do about it?
Let’s find out together, shall we?
What is responsive web design?
You may have heard the term referred to under a number of different guises, such as ‘mobile optimised website’ but fall of those terms mean the same thing:
Responsive web design means that your website has been designed to provide essentially the same user experience no matter which device is being used to view it.
Responsive design incorporates a number of techniques and tools, many of which work behind-the-scenes,to allow your website to adapt to different screen sizes so that the same site provides just as much user accessibility on a small iPhone screen as it does your huge monitor on your desktop computer.
Why is this important?
As the cost of Internet-enabled gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and even television sets continue to drop, and as those same gadgets become much more easier to use, increasing numbers of web users are moving away from the traditional home computers and accessing the web through other methods.
In the United States, 63% of all online traffic comes from smartphones and tablet devices, with 52% of all time spent online globally coming from mobile devices.
When this first started to happen around the turn of the century, most website owners were pretty unprepared for it, and thus did nothing -or at least very little- to cater to their mobile-savvy users.
This meant that trying to load up a website on your phone was a slow, laborious process.
The menus were difficult to navigate, reading anything meant scrolling every which way, and the whole experience for the website user was pretty abysmal.
Over time, companies began to slowly but surely but steps in place to improve the mobile browsing experience. Often, this meant creating a separate, mobile-friendly version of their website, yet this was hardly an ideal solution.
For one thing, it effectively meant double the time, energy and cost of building a website, and took up twice the resources, so that even those using one of the best web hosting packages would struggle to meet up with demand.
There had to be a better way, and thankfully, it eventually came thanks to responsive design.
Why use responsive web design?
In this day and age, it’s no longer necessary to go out and build an entirely separate website for your mobile users.
Using responsive web design, you can cut the expense, and dramatically reduce the time and resources it takes to build and maintain two separate websites.
The benefits don’t end there either.
Think about your customers.
hen they visit your new responsive designed site, they ultimately enjoy a smoother, faster, and more intuitive experience.
This causes less frustration, makes it easier for them to get what they want from you quickly and easily and makes for much happier customers.
You don’t need us to tell you how having happy, satisfied customers benefit your business.
Consider your Search Engine Optimisation too.
Google, the biggest search engine on the planet, places a greater emphasis on sites with responsive design, encouraging a mobile-first approach to building your site.
Take this approach, and you increase the likelihood of your site soaring up the rankings and actually being found by your customers.
And then there’s the future to think about too.
Was it really possible, even just a few years ago, to imagine just how many different screen sizes we’d have at our disposal today?
What’s to say there won’t be even more devices hitting the market in years to come?
When they inevitably do, your site will be ready to roll with them, putting you miles ahead of your non-responsive competitors.
Is your website geared towards mobile users? What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in creating a mobile-responsive website? Let us know by joining in the conversation on the Web Design DIY Facebook page, or send us your burning questions about DIY Web Design on Twitter @WebDesignDIY.