OK, first things first. Let me declare my unhealthy obsession with responsive web design (RWD). Orange Crush was an early adopter of creating websites using a responsive approach and I seem to have been banging on about RWD for years to anyone who will listen. Those who were once friends now shun me. I don’t get invited on nights out anymore. My mother refers to me as the ‘responsive nerd’. Am I bothered? Well, yes. I’d like my family and friends back but not to the extent that it will stop me writing this article.
What is Responsive Web Design?
In simple terms, responsive design means a website’s pages adapt to the device they are being displayed on; be that a phone, tablet or desktop computer. The text can be read without the reader squinting, the navigation will accommodate both a mouse and the chubbiest of thumbs, media such as images and video will resize to the device screen and page layouts will adapt to accommodate all devices. This is a godsend to both developers and site owners as the previous solutions were to create separate mobile sites or dynamically served mobile sites. Expensive and a pain to maintain.
There has been a continual increase in people using phones and tablets to browse the Internet, so it’s a no-brainer [or should that be a ‘brainer’ if it’s a clever thing to do?] that your website works across multiple platforms.
Here are a few stats, courtesy of Digital Buzz Blog to enforce the point.
- 91% of all people on earth have a mobile phone
- 56% of people own a smart phone
- 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source
- 80% of time on mobile is spent inside apps
- 72% of tablet owners purchase online from their tablets each week
Google’s Crush on Responsive Websites
In search engine terms, Google is the daddy, the one we aim to please. It can make or break a business through its indexing, so it’s wise to impress this behemoth by listening and acting on its advice. Google makes no secret of the fact that it loves RWD! Google recommends RWD as the best way to target mobile users and favours sites optimised for mobile devices when delivering search returns, particularly in the case of searches for local services.
RWD also has a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) advantage over separate mobile websites in that the latter have different URLs and HTML to their desktop versions. Responsive pages have just one URL and one HTML file which makes crawling and indexing easier for Google.
Boing-Boing Be Gone!
If your website is at the top of Google for your search term but you don’t accommodate mobile users, you’re going to have a pretty poor bounce rate as visitors squint and struggle to access content. A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who hit your landing page and then move on from your site without exploring further. Google knows your bounce rate and may interpret this as an indication that your content isn’t relevant and you could drop in Google rankings
RWD and User Experience
Having a user-friendly responsive site offers your visitors a better user experience. Information will be easier to find and share.
Responsive design also puts the ball in the developer’s court as it’s primarily about designing for the user. If your developer can nail the user experience and deliver a visually attractive site, you are onto a winner.
Responsive web design matches today’s users with today’s websites. Users are increasing likely to switch between devices in the course of their daily browsing and their expectations are to have as good an experience using a tablet or phone as they would accessing with a desktop.
Thanks for reading. You have made a friendless nerd very happy.