Website development has come a long way since the days of the text-heavy, flash-infused websites of the ‘90s. The rise of mobile devices, tablets and social interaction online has created a whole new world for web developers—a world that has created the necessity for innovation and a new way to synchronize the user experience across a variety of platforms and devices. It’s called responsive web design.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design creates a universal site layout that remains functional across the entire spectrum of user platforms. Your customers can visit a website on their desktop, smart phone, tablet, or laptop and they will encounter a site that displays correctly and functions optimally for that particular device. It is no longer necessary to develop multiple versions of a website for the iPhone, Android, iPad, laptop, and multiple other platforms. That’s because responsive web development leverages media queries like jailbreak iPhone 5 to determine how the content should display on the screen.
How It Works
Using fluid grids, the layout will change sizes with you as you resize the window or switch from a tablet or smartphone to a desktop. By using percentages, all of the layouts retain the same percentage, resulting in the same layout percent across devices. Regardless of the device you are using, the screen will look the same and it will instantly fit the size of that unit. Since you only have one layout size that you build, responsive often requires much less upkeep and changes along the way. It takes longer to build and design – mainly due to CSS – but it is more flexible. Many developers would say to start in the web browser and go from there.
Why Responsive Web Design is the Next Big Thing
The beauty of technology is that it’s always changing and evolving. When the first website was developed, who could ever have imagined a WIFI router, much less envisioned 80% of the populace walking around with internet access in their pockets? And it’s anyone’s guess what new innovations will be rolling out over the next decade. With responsive web design, you can adapt your approach as technology evolves rather than starting over from scratch for each new device. Since the development of response design it’s no longer necessary to build, support and manage multiple websites and web apps.
Benefits of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design has a number of benefits for your business website, no matter how technologically savvy (or not) you consider yourself to be:
Better User Experience
As ever-increasing numbers of website visitors find their way to your site via a mobile device, it’s more important than ever to make sure you serve up an excellent user experience from the start. Tiny text and layouts that require zooming in and out in order to navigate the site drive users away. Responsive web design helps ensure that no matter what device the visitor is using, they are provided with an intuitive and optimized online experience. You can even cater design elements to the specific device in question (for instance, touch-enabled functionality for touch devices or more prominent contact info for a smart phone).
Because you won’t be building multiple versions of the same site, you won’t be spending nearly as much on web development. And the savings continue over the long term since updates and redesigns only have to be done across one flexible framework.
Better Support for Blogging and Social Media
Over half of all social media activity happens on a mobile device, according to ComScore. When you post a link on Facebook or Twitter, and that link takes users to a responsive website, you are providing them with the optimal user experience. They’ll also come away with a more positive image of your brand.
Maintaining multiple separate versions of your website means that when you find an error, you have to make the same change across multiple platforms. Depending on how complex the error is, that can be a major headache. With responsive web design, you make the change once and it’s done. Voila.
One version of your site and one URL means that your SEO will become less complicated and diluted. No more problems with multiple versions of your site competing for clicks or visibility, and no more problems with visitors landing on the wrong version of the site. According to Google, responsive web design is a perfect complement to mobile SEO—and we all know how important Google’s opinion is when it comes to site visibility.
Faster Load Times
If you haven’t built a mobile site at all yet, you’re shooting yourself in the foot every time you post a link on social media. Your website needs to load in one or two seconds, but your desktop website isn’t optimized to load this quickly on a mobile device. Slow load times can be directly related to a high bounce rate so this is another native benefit of response web development.
As internet users become savvier, they will expect better online experiences from the websites they visit regardless of which device they choose to visit your website from. And because they’re usually looking for something quickly rather than spending lots of time browsing, they want a site that loads fast, can be read and navigated easily, and provides them with well-rounded user experience. That’s what they’ve always wanted, but now there’s a better way to give it to them. Responsive web design not only gives your customers what they want, but also makes the development side of the equation easier for you.
At HMG Creative, we’re excited about the responsive websites we’ve created for our clients like Texas A&M. If you’re ready to take the next step in multi-device development we’ve got an award-winning team ready to take on your next project. We’ve got extensive experience with responsive website development (check out our own recently launched site!) and as this starts to become the norm we want to make sure that you’re ahead of your competitors.