We launched our new responsive website for Spark Logix Studios today and thought, hey… let’s explain what responsive web design is. Just consider all the different ways people can access the internet: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, eReaders, and more. Add to that the plethora of web browsers and operating systems in use, and the fact you’re able to view websites at all starts to seem like a small miracle.
How do web designers deal with so much variation? In the past, designers typically coded different sites for different devices and generally gave them the same functionalities. This is still how many designers operate today; however, a more innovative approach is evolving — responsive web design.
What is it?
As their name suggests, responsive websites respond to their environment. This means, instead of a designer having to create multiple sites for different gadgets and operating systems, the website “knows” where it’s at and adjusts accordingly. So, whether being viewed on a PC, tablet, or smartphone, the site renders appropriately.
Sometimes the site may look the same, or in the case with smartphones and tablets, it might be scaled down and provide abridged information. The site’s code is fluid, so it automatically accounts for changes in size, resolution, and navigation.
What’s it Good For?
Responsive web design isn’t for all purposes. For instance, if you’re interested in providing web apps that really use a device’s specific functionalities, then it may not be for you. But, if your main goal is to ensure your site works appropriately no matter where or on what device someone tries to access it then it is a smart solution.
Other benefits of responsive web design are:
- Mobile-friendly – Mobile internet users are taking the online world by storm, and mobile devices are rapidly becoming the most popular way to access the internet. Businesses that can’t stay connected with mobile consumers are missing out in a big way. With responsive web design, you know anyone can view your pages no matter what device they’re using.
- Better usability – Since the site adjusts to the consumer’s gadget, user experience increases dramatically. Viewers won’t get frustrated with pages that don’t load properly, that require annoying side-to-side scrolling, are too small to read, or have other bounce-producing annoyances. Essentially, responsive web design keeps visitors on your page.
- More relevant – Mobile users are often looking for quick information (directions, reviews, product descriptions, etc.) and don’t need or want to hunt through extra content to find what they need. Responsive web design automatically abbreviates a site down to its most basic information, making it more likely a consumer will bother to stay on your site.
- SEO – Instead of having to build links and traffic to three or more sites (one for desktops, one for tablets, and one for smartphones), responsive web design lets you concentrate all your SEO efforts on one site, so all link juice goes to the same place with no site-slowing redirects.
- Less expensive – Over time, responsive sites tend to cost less than maintaining multiple, dedicated sites. There’s simply no way to reduce the redundancy, coordination, and updates involved with maintaining more than one site, all of which means more time (money).
Why Should You Care?
With all the benefits of responsive web design you have an increased chance of sales and conversions, which, undoubtedly, is your primary reason for having a website. You can rest easy knowing your site will always perform, users will have a device-targeted experience (encourages action), and you can reach the ever-growing mobile audience.