If you’re doing business on the web, or have any sort of web presence, you’ve probabaly heard of responsive web design and are wondering if you need it. When the term responsive web design was first coined in a 2010 article by Ethan Marcotte, it was mostly in reference to the scaling down of a desktop sized website to fit on mobile phones and first generation tablets. The ideas behind responsive design had already been used for about a year, by pioneers such as Filament Group, but in the few years since then, responsive design has also come to mean adapting layout and experience to large screen TVs, console browsers, and emerging technologies like Google Glass and smart watches. A September 2013 report from CNN shows that mobile internet use has doubled to 62% since 2009, with no signs of slowing down. In other words, responsive web design for business isn’t optional anymore, it’s now simply part of doing business online.
Here are few other stats about responsive web design that you may not have known:
· 21% of all phone users use their smartphone as their primary means of accessing the internet.
· There were 97 unique screen device resolutions in 2010. In 2013, that number rose to 232.
· Hispanic and African American smartphone owners are 10% more likely to use their phone as their default point of access to the web.
· The fastest growing demographic using the mobile web are 50–64 year olds.
· 67% of online shoppers say they are more likely to make purchases for a mobile friendly site.
· Mobile web sales are expected to triple between now and 2017.
Benefits of Responsive Web Design for Business Websites
A responsive redesign of your website creates a better experience for your users (no pinching and zooming on microscopic text). It uses the same code base for all resolutions, which means your search rankings aren’t split between a desktop and mobile site. When future screen resolutions appear that are very small or very large, optimizing the layout becomes much easier, with the responsive infrastructure already in place. As mentioned above, mobile is quickly becoming the default view for websites, not the traditional desktop. Responsive web design forces us to evaluate what page elements are the most important to reaching the goals of the site.
Google also announced on their developers forum that they recommend that all websites use responsive design, using the same HTML and CSS codebase, and cautioned against faulty redirects to seperate mobile versions of the website (Ex. m.mysite.com).
Drawbacks of Responsive Sites
Responsive sites take a little longer to calibrate for the myriad different screen sizes; that’s just a fact. As a result, it costs a little bit more to build a responsive site. However, this is really the only drawback there is. I think of investing in responsive web design as an investment in your business, and a sign to your customers that you’re committed to making their experience as pleasant as possible.
In the few years since the web industry has embraced responsive as a standard, there have been a number of tools and code bases, such as Foundation and Bootstrap, that have emerged to make that design process easier. Other web designers have made it easier for the web community as a whole to learn about the responsive design process. Brad Frost’s Responsive Design Patterns is a great resource for layout patterns, and web agency Sparkbox has been writing about the redesign of their already responsive site.
It’s an exciting time to be in the web industry; things are changing and evolving all the time. If you have any questions about responsive web design for small business or website project, feel free to get a hold of us.