What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive design is a web design and development technique that creates a site or system that reacts to the size of a user’s screen. Responsive design will optimise a user’s browsing experience by creating a flexible and responsive web page, optimised for the device that is accessing it.
There has been a distinct audience shift towards mobile browsing and responsive design represents the simplest way to reach users across multiple devices and ensures a seamless user experience. 2013 was hailed the ‘Year of Responsive Design’, and with increasing preference of readers to read news online across multiple devices (i.e. tablets and smartphones), responsive design is becoming increasingly important.
A recent study found that more than 80% of people are disappointed with the experience of browsing the web on mobile devices and would use their smartphones more if the browsing experience improved.
This isn’t surprising when 64% of the smartphone users expect websites to load in 4 seconds or less, while the average website takes more than twice that amount, at 9 seconds.
The Content Myth
The Content Myth is the belief that content should be restricted, dumbed-down or eliminated for mobile users based on their goals and intent.
Up until now, limiting content made sense, especially in the early days of the modern mobile web browsers. Today, however, it is widely accepted that we don’t know anything about our users’ goals based on which device they are using. Users need and expect full functionality on their mobile device, because they could be using it anywhere, for any reason. That means that many of your users literally require all of the same functionality on mobile that they would otherwise get on a desktop.
We can’t eliminate content or functionality, but we also can’t show everything at once on a small screen. This means we need to redesign and recognise content into smaller “views” and hide or hint at secondary content in smart ways. This isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s necessary.
Now that we know the facts – that we have to restructure content, but not eliminate it – there are two ways to achieve this. One is with a responsive web design, and the other is a separate, mobile-focused website.
Advantages of Responsive Web Design
– Increase sales and conversion rates
– Increase your visibility in search engines
– Save time and cost on mobile development
– Save time and cost on site management
– No more worrying about duplicate content
– Easier link management
– An arguably better user experience
– Google recommends it
Responsive design allows you to stay ahead of the trend. As the demand for media rich mobile internet and apps is burgeoning, several important implications must be addressed; development and maintenance costs, visibility in search engines and better conversion rates. It is these factors combined with a unified approach to the design that will be beneficial for all stakeholders.
The purpose of a responsive website design is to quickly offer solutions to whatever a user may need. The response time should be faster, while gently guiding your visitors throughout pages and sub-pages. The ultimate goal is perfect user experience within a broad range of website browsers.