If you are like most business owners, you know that having a website gives businesses more exposure, plus, it is cost effective and a more flexible way to advertise; it also improves credibility and it’s an excellent way to establish communication with customers, but nowadays, a traditional website is not enough. Today, websites need to adapt to different devices with different screen sizes, that’s exactly what a responsive website does.
The Beginning Of Mobile Web Design
Now, let’s go back in history for a bit. A couple of years ago, companies like Nokia, Palm and Blackberry started designing mobiles that allowed the user to have access to the internet, but not everything was a bed of roses, a big problem was that the browsers on these devices were severely limited, so users couldn’t really enjoy the full experience of navigating the internet, and whenever they wanted to visit a website using a mobile phone they would get broken paragraphs, they would have to scroll the whole screen up and down and left to right to get a full view or they would have to zoom in to read the content, etc.
After trying different options, developers started to build specific “mobile” sites, for example, if your business had a website called let’s say, http://www.thisspaceisyours.com, and you wanted mobile users to be able to browse it through their mobile devices, a developer would make another website that integrated an “m” to a domain name (to make reference to “mobile” devices), so your company’s link to the mobile website would have been: http://thisspaceisyours/m/ or http://m.thisspaceisyours.com
At the end of the day, this complicated things for business owners, because they ended up with any number of different websites for each mobile device size, and if they wanted to optimize their content to make it more visible in search engines they would have to optimize each site separately. A total mess. Fortunately, technology evolved and things got easier for us.
The Importance Of Optimized Mobile Web Design
The year 2012 was stated as “the mobile year”, and since then, the use and popularity of mobile devices has been growing. A recent study made by the Monetate Q4 2013 Ecommerce Quarterly published in February 2014, show that from the year 2012 to 2013 there was an increase of 5.03 % of website traffic through mobile devices, which means that with each passing year more users preferring to browse the internet for e-commerce on these devices rather than on laptops or desktop computers, and that means that today more than ever, business owners need to invest in a mobile user experience if they want their business to grow, and that’s where responsive design comes in.
The Solution: Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors). Source: Wikipedia
Responsive Web Design is a technique for adapting a website’s layout across multiple devices. It is comprised of three parts: media queries, fluid grids, and flexible images. Source: University of Minnesota Duluth
Now, here’s the definition in plain English that you can actually understand…
With a responsive design, your website will be able to automatically react to scale images and copy, to fit any size of browser windows through specific coding.
A responsive design will adapt your website’s content to fit a smaller screens (i.e. a smartphone or tablet), and by doing this you optimize the mobile experience for your customers, allowing them to look at a much more friendly, effective, easy to navigate and uncomplicated version of your website.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Responsive Website?
Having a responsive website has many advantages for a business:
The main benefit you’ll get with a responsive design is the flexibility your website will have to adapt to fit different screens. A responsive design will automatically scale, resize and relocate content on your website to ensure that users have a good experience navigating it.
2. Improves sales:
Online shopping is not even a tendency anymore, it’s a way of life. People are preferring to buy anything they need online and they are using tablets and mobiles to do it, that’s why if your company is selling goods or services, a responsive design will make your customer’s buying experience more friendly and comfortable, which will then translate in customer loyalty and will increase your business sales.
3. Improves your SEO:
Because instead of optimizing content for different links, you will only need to optimize it for one. With a responsive design the URL remains the same for every device which makes easy to update and optimize content.
4. Easy to maintain:
Because if you need to do any changes to your website you only have to work on one link and not in three, this saves you money, effort and time.
Why Do You Need It?
Having a responsive website is not only about staying ahead of the trend, is more like a “you-have-to-do-it-or-else-you-will-go-out-of-business” thing.
Yes, we know that having a responsive website is fashionable and it makes your business look good and smart, but if we get a bit serious on this and compare statistics, we’ll notice that businesses are changing their website to be responsive not because they want to look smart, but because not having a responsive website is affecting their sales.
Let’s take a look at these pie charts taken from Forbes Magazine that show their website traffic for previous years.
These charts show a comparison between desktop, mobile and tablet users that visited our business website in the previous years (you can check yours in Google Analytics); the charts clearly demonstrate an increase in mobile and tablet users that visit our website, and we’re sure it’s pretty much the same thing for any other business.
How Do We Make a Responsive Web Design?
To make a responsive website we need to follow a specific process. Every project we take is different and responds to different guidelines, but an overall look at the process will help you get an idea.
Step #1 – Analysis: First, we collect our clients expectations about the project so we can have starting point to work on.
Step #2 – Requirements Analysis: We evaluate the technical requirements to start the project.
Step #3 – Create Prototype: We create an HTML-based style prototype to work as a visual guide.
Step #4 – Establish Content Priority: We establish content priority to define what content the website will show depending on the browser width.
Step #5 – Conclude Design: We design in HTML and CSS based on needs and style outlined in previous steps.
Step #6 – We Build: Code responsive templates starting with desktop first and down scaling to mobile devices following the previous guidelines to establish how the design should respond as browser width decreases.
Step #7 – CMS Integration: We combine the templates into the content management system of choice.
Step #8 – We Launch: We release your responsive website.
As we explained previously, businesses nowadays rely on websites to have exposure and increase sales, and any business owner who doesn’t at least have a website is practically doomed from the start, but now, with so many users preferring mobile devices over desktop computers, the wise thing to do for your business is to provide your customers with a mobile-friendly experience.
Online marketing should be a priority to your business, and the present and future of online marketing is mobile, so please, do your business a favor and make your website responsive, your customers will thank you for it. In the end, customers preference build your business, don’t you think?