With the advent of mobile devices and their small screens (relative to the size of desktops and laptops) came a need to redesign the Internet. Today, a great deal of web access occurs via mobile devices (20% of Google searches are performed on mobile devices and 25% of Internet users in the United States access the Internet only using a mobile device), so companies the world over have begun to redesign their web presence to accommodate smaller screens and different mechanisms of input.
The result has been responsive web design, a programming approach that can offer a number of benefits even though there is an initial investment cost. Because the Internet is moving toward mobile device use, now is the time to invest in upgrading your company’s website to make it responsive to the needs of all users.
What Is Responsive Design?
Responsive web design is an approach to web development in which the software should is designed to accommodate a user’s behavior and the device on which they are accessing a particular service. This means dealing different screen sizes, different operating systems, different device orientations, and different device input mechanisms. At a technical level, the practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images, and intelligent use of HTML and CSS.
As users switch from one device to another, a website responds by automatically making accommodations for differences in resolution, image size, and scripting abilities. The technology already exists for a website to respond to a user’s preferences. Responsive web design simply implements that technology to provide the best possible user experience.
The Benefits of Responsive Web Design
First and foremost among the benefits of using responsive web design is the fact that Google flat-out states that it prefers it. It is rare for the search giant to state specific preferences or to give specific advice about how web developers can improve Page Rank. That Google went so far as to state a preference for responsive web design is indicative of just how important the technology is.
The reasons that Google prefers responsive web design are myriad. For starters, it’s actually more efficient for Google’s bots to crawl responsive web designs because it reduces the number of URLs for any given business to just one. This means that Google doesn’t have to index separate pages and can spend more time gathering specific information about individual pages rather than gathering general information about a host of different pages.
The benefits to responsive web design go well beyond the benefits that Google itself experiences. For starters, responsive webpages tend to produce better user experiences, which in turn reduces bounce rate and increases the chances that a user will make a purchase.
Believe it or not, roughly 70% of tablet users have shopped on their device, indicating that not having a responsive web design that works across all devices is a perfect way to lose out on the coveted conversion rate that so many sellers chase.
From the standpoint of web developers, responsive web design makes it easier to implement A/B testing that allows them to determine which version of a page is optimal for a given set of users. In an A/B test, more than one version of a webpage is created and served to users randomly. Information on everything from purchases to ad views to dwell times is then collected and analyzed to determine which design is optimal.
With responsive web design, A/B testing is not only easier, but it actually becomes possible to serve up different versions of a webpage to different users based on information gathered about them. In short, the Internet is becoming more customized and thus more user-friendly as a result of responsive web design.
As a summary, here is a list of some of the most obvious benefit of using responsive web design.
- Improved SEO and Page Rank
- Increased Conversion Rates
- Improved User Experience
- Better Information from Google Analytics
- Less Expensive (More Cost Effective)
- High Level of Flexibility
- Easier to Manage
How to Implement Responsive Web Design
The easiest way to implement responsive web design is to hire a company, such as Denver Web Design, that is experienced in launching responsive websites. As you plan for the development of your webpage, you want to speak to the coder to ensure that they understand that responsive web design should eliminate intricate divisions, remove in-line styles, and remove redundant content. HTML5 and CSS3 are the core of responsive web design.
Once you have settled a company and a general layout for your responsive webpage, it is important that you take into consideration just how many resolutions your webpage will be targeting. The greater the number of resolutions you target, the more expensive it will be to design a particular webpage. The basic rule of thumb is that any responsive web design should target three major resolutions and three minor resolutions at a minimum.
These resolutions are often determined based on typical monitor sizes and the most popular devices. Once you’ve decided upon particular resolutions, they will become the breakpoints that your web designer will use to determine which version of your webpage is to serve to a particular user.
At this point, most of your decision-making is finished while a developer codes the page using standard industry practices. Once the coding is mostly done, you will be exploring the pages that have been developed and determining things like where advertisements will be placed, where buttons will be located, what kind of merchandise will be advertised, and so forth.
Joseph Naccarato started SiteWired Web Solutions, Inc. in 1998 in a 500 square foot apartment in NYC. Since then the company has moved to Denver, Colorado, employing 20+ web professionals and has built 1000’s of websites for companies ranging from start-ups to fortune 1000’s.