Mobile-friendly, or ‘responsive’ design is a “big thing” in web design right now. But if you’re not a designer or developer, you might be wondering what this term means, or why it’s important. You might also be wondering if your business’s website even needs to be responsive. Well, let me tell you that having a responsive website is no longer just an option – if you want to keep up with the market and other competitors, it’s a requirement.
First of all, what is responsive design?
Responsive design is a way of building a website so that content is automatically scaled up or down to fit professionally on different screen sizes. This includes hundreds of different devices, from phones, laptops, tablets and giant monitors, all with varying screen dimensions. The way that these different devices display information on the screen can be very different because of the dimensions.
The ultimate goal of having a responsive website is to give users a seamless experience when visiting a website. It is often difficult to navigate websites that are not responsive – usually involving a lot of scrolling, missed content, cropped images or awkward formatting. This makes it frustrating for users to get the info they need. Have you ever been looking through a website and had to scroll left to right because the content didn’t fit on your phone screen?
Exactly. This can be frustrating and actually deters people away from websites.
Responsive website design replaces the need to create a separate website dedicated to mobile users – now, one website can be built that automatically matches the device being used.
So, why does your business need a responsive website?
1. To target the majority of internet users
One of the most powerful tools in the new age of web development is having a mobile-friendly website. Why? Because mobile traffic is responsible for over 50% of total internet traffic – and this number is expected to rise. This means that more and more people are beginning to not only use their phone for the ‘gram, but they’re also making more purchases directly from their phone. Mobile e-commerce will be responsible for about 67% of total e-commerce sales by 2021. That’s why now, more than ever, it is imperative that your website is mobile-friendly to accommodate people on their phones. You’ll be able to target the majority of internet users if your business’s website is optimized for phones.
- Lower Cost and Website Maintenance Fees
Maintaining and updating separate sites for mobile, desktop and tablet audiences gets expensive… quickly. By the time you do the same update on all 3 different versions of the site, you’re racking up hours with your developer like no one’s business.
Your business can actually save money by using responsive design, and therefore only having to maintain a single site. The edits only have to be done once and will automatically be reflected on all screen sizes. The number of mobile users is only expected to increase, so it’s better in the long run that your business invests in a responsive website before your customers start asking for it.
- Support thumb scrollers
Yes, I see you! I often find myself scrolling through a recipe or blog post on my phone using only my thumb. Since phone screens are getting bigger and bigger, areas of websites are getting harder to reach. Try it real quick – pull out your phone and hold it in your right or left hand. Try to reach your thumb to the top corner on the opposite side. Straining?
Yes, it’s only a minor inconvenience to stretch your thumb to reach a button. But if visitors don’t find your website super easy to use, they might just give up. If there’s an important part of your website in that top corner, for example a call-to-action or button, your users will get annoyed that it’s a little hard to click. Thumb-friendly websites take responsive design one step further to make sure that even thumb-scrollers have a great experience.
- It’s all about the UX (user experience)
Having a clean, responsive website allows visitors to navigate through your site easily, and get the information they need quickly. If someone visits your website on their phone or tablet and the formatting is messed up or images are cut off, your business might come across as unprofessional. If your website isn’t built to accommodate mobile users, they might leave the site quickly and head over to a competitor’s website. Responsive web design offers a much better user experience, and leaves your website visitors with a great first impression of your business.
- Improve SEO (and your site’s exposure!)
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is a free way to get your website to the top of Google’s search results. Google crawls your business’s website and looks at a ton of different things in order to rank your website among their search results. Google looks at your overall website structure among a host of other things, and gives preference to websites that are the best of the best. Of course, this includes whether or not your website is responsive. If your website is mobile-friendly, this can give you a giant boost in search results, bringing you closer to the top of that list. The closer you are to the first page of Google’s search results increases your ability to get quality website visitors checking out your business.
Does your business have a website? Do a quick responsive test!
Did you get a green light? Sweet, your site passes Google’s responsive test. You might already know why responsive design is so important. Great job!
Did you get red Xs? It’s time to consider a website refresh to make sure that you are accommodating people on their phones, tablets, or other devices.
I’m Sydney from SL Creative – digital strategist & director with a passion for good food, and good design. I build ready-made websites and hand-crafted brands for the food and travel industry.