By responsive we mean, in basic terms, mobile-friendly. In reality it’s more than that and covers more than mobile phones for example but for the purposes of this article we’ll stick at that.
There are various ways of having a mobile-friendly website, and in the not too distant past this was done by having two (or more) different versions of the website and directing the user to the right version by automatically detecting the type of device they are using (there are many methods of doing this which we won’t go into…). The problems with this approach are:
• Often you will need to manage/update any website content independently for each version of the site. This is time consuming and expensive.
• Search engine optimisation (SEO) can become a problem, as well as inappropriate search results being shown on different devices.
Importantly, this example is not a responsive website. Yes it will display a mobile version of a page on a mobile device, but the fact that it is a different page (rather than a mobile optimised version of the page) means it is not responsive.
A responsive website means there is only one version of the website – a single site to maintain. This one version of the website will adjust itself and appear differently on different devices, hide certain sections, show certain sections, format menus, hide images etc. You could even have completely different looking sites on a mobile phone, but it can all be done with having a single responsive website. This is what we do.
Of course, another key approach is not treating the mobile (or tablet) version of a website as a secondary version, as was always done in the past. The proliferation of mobile internet use means your website needs to be built targeting all screen sizes and orientations equally. Why? For the optimum user experience. Your site needs to be clear, aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable on any screen. We test our websites on all devices right from the start, not as an afterthought. While it is possible to convert an existing website into a responsive one, it often looks just like what it is – an afterthought. Considering the amount of work involved, we strongly suggest taking the opportunity for a complete redesign or ‘revamp’, often with the inclusion of added features (blog, social media etc. as appropriate) that you can use to compliment your business.
So why does my site need to be responsive? Amongst other things, Google. Google has become synonymous with the meaning of search. You don’t search the internet for something, you ‘Google it’. You might have noticed in the search results a little bit of text saying ‘mobile friendly’ when searching on your phone.
That’s the Google bot at work, prioritising the display of mobile friendly websites in the search results. From this example alone you can see the impact it can have on the visibility of your business in the search results.
However, in our opinion the main reason for needing a responsive design is this: customer experience. Yes, search rankings are important but it’s the content of your website and the experience the user has of it which take precedence. If the user is forever having to resize, zoom, scroll all over the place to find what they want then they won’t enjoy using your website. If they can find what they want and access it immediately and easily, they will come back.
There is another reason for needing a responsive website too – your image. The image your company portrays can count for a lot, and what we’re seeing more and more are businesses being judged by their websites before first contact is made. Your website should be like your business – at the forefront of what you’re doing, presenting an inviting experience for your potential customers. We take pride in making websites that our clients can be proud of. If you’re thinking about your website and wondering if it’s still up to the job, feel free to get in touch today.