If you haven’t heard the term “responsive design” yet, you will. And you almost certainly have felt its effects. Simply put, responsive design means:
Deliver the appropriate version of the website for the viewing device
So if you’re visiting a website on a computer with a 21” wide-screen monitor, it looks and behaves differently than if you’re visiting the same website with a smart phone.
Okay, so why do you need it?
As a website visitor yourself, you know that few things are more frustrating than going to a website that doesn’t work properly, is difficult to read, makes it hard to find what you’re looking for, a just plain looks “wrong.”
Guess what the first reaction is to a website that behaves in one or more of the above ways? That’s right: another website is just a click away. You’ve just lost a visitor, who may be a current customer, a potential customer, or someone who refers other customers. Uh oh.
You don’t need multiple sites — just one with variations
Now we get to how this magic trick is done. Only there’s nothing magic about it, just skill and a bit of hard work.
To begin with, all browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) send information about the viewing environment to the website server. So the website “knows” if it’s being viewed on a computer, phone or tablet. It also “knows” how wide the browser window is. Based on this information, a certain version of the website is delivered.
Using a desktop computer? The widest version of the site is presented. On a tablet? Same site, but the width is reduced, and the size of the text is increased, so it’s still easily readable. Turn that tablet from landscape (horizontal) to portrait (vertical) orientation, and you may see those two columns turn into one long column, with certain graphic elements (like photographs) stacked on top of each other, instead of side by side.
If the page includes a video, it may resize itself so that it fills the screen, but is not bigger than the screen (making it difficult to view).
Getting the idea?
The final factor
As if keeping your viewers engaged and satisfied while they’re on your site were not enough, there’s another very important reason why you need responsive design: Google is phasing in a penalty for sites that are not responsive. The result will be that non-responsive sites will rank lower and lower in the search results, thus substantially decreasing their search-generated traffic.
And statistics show that search-generated traffic is historically the most relevant to your business. Those are the people that are looking for you and what your company offers, and you better believe you want them to find you.
Want to know more about responsive design?