Web Design 101: What Are Responsive Websites? And Why Is Everyone Talking About Them?
In its most basic form, the answer to the first question is quite simple: a responsive website is one that adjusts the site layout based on which device the visitor is using. This means the site should look good and work properly not only on a desktop computer but also on a laptop, a notebook, a smartphone, and a tablet.
Why is everyone talking about this?
Google started the tongues wagging five years ago when it changed its search engine algorithms to make a website’s mobile presence one of its ranking signals. Website owners and web designers quickly started to refer to this as ‘Mobilegeddon’. They had to rethink everything they thought they knew about website design.
Ignoring the problem is no longer an option: According to Statista.com, there will be around 14.91 billion mobile devices on earth by next year. Other research shows that more than 60 percent of all web searches are already being done from some sort of mobile device.
Initially, web designers responded by developing separate versions for different screen sizes, but with the number of different screen sizes escalating virtually on a daily basis, this quickly became nearly unmanageable.
The solution came in the form of:
Responsive web design
With responsive web design, the website automatically adjusts to the visitor’s screen size. To make sure it works properly on all types of devices, a responsive website employs various design elements including:
– Media queries
– Flexible text and images
– A fluid grid
– Dropping horizontal scrolling
– Enough space for tap targets
– Readable text without the need for zooming in
If all of this sounds terribly technical, it’s because it is. Luckily Google has made it easy to check whether your site is mobile friendly by setting up a free test site .
Why is responsive web design important?
Here are a number of ways in which a responsive website can benefit your business:
It benefits your SEO
The closer your site is to the top of search results on the major search engines, the higher the chances are that someone will click on the listing. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a tool used by many firms to improve their website rankings on Google and other search engines.
Search engines use algorithms (formulas) to decide which websites to list at the top. And in recent years, particularly since Google’s 2015 ‘Mobilegeddon’ announcement, these algorithms have been modified to give preference to a single version of a website. If they pick up that there are a zillion versions of your site, one for every possible type of device plus an extra one just in case, you will not do as well as your competitor with his single responsive website.
A stress-free visitor experience
If someone accesses your website from a smartphone or other mobile device and he or she has a terrible user experience, they are very likely going to get out of there as fast as possible. In fact, in a recent poll, 40 percent of respondents reported that an unpleasant mobile experience will immediately send them looking for a different website.
Easier to manage
Imagine what will happen if you have separate websites developed for desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. Every time something on the website has to change, someone will have to change all the different versions. With a responsive website, this is no longer necessary. This will save your staff members time, and it will save you money. And if you use a web design/digital marketing agency to manage and maintain your website, it will in the long run save you a lot of money.