You have probably heard the word ‘responsive design’ thrown around a lot in the last couple of years, but what does it really mean, and why is it important? Well, mobile devices are becoming the preferred method of accessing the web for most consumers, and responsive designs are a way to cater to those users, while still offering a good experience for desktop users too.
Around 60 per cent of internet accesses are performed on mobile devices now, and 51 per cent of emails are read on mobiles too, this means that mobile users are too important to ignore.
Shopping on Mobile
Consider your own shopping habits. If you are looking for web design in Reading, you will probably do a local search – and Google is putting increasing importance on mobile-friendliness for local searches. If you fail to cater for mobile users, then your website will suffer in the SERPs. Given that Phablets are expected to outperform both PCs and Tablets over the next year in terms of sales now is definitely the time to adopt responsive design.
Deploying Responsive Websites
If you want to see responsive design in action, try visiting digital-zest.com on your phone and on your desktop. Compare the layouts and the usability on each platform. Do the same for some other websites that you use frequently and notice how the best websites flow and scale to suit each platform. Webmasters can no longer afford to simply provide one static layout for all devices.
The good news is that deploying a responsive theme for your website is easier than you might expect. If you use a content management system such as Joomla or WordPress then you should ask your theme designer to make sure that your website is responsive, and that all of the plugins and widgets you are using are suitable for your theme as well.
If you are using a less well-known CMS, or have a bespoke website, then ensuring that your website is mobile friendly may be a little harder, but it is still entirely possible. Talk to your web developer about updating your website so that it uses a fluid CSS based layout, rather than fixed-width tables, and try to serve up different resolution images depending on whether your visitor is known to be on a desktop or a mobile.
Some websites go so far as to try to determine whether the user is on a mobile or a wifi connection, and serve different images based on that. Others allow the mobile device to simply request fewer images, or to download only compressed/small file size images. There are several different schools of thought when it comes to responsive images – and there are even some new standards in discussion. There is no right or wrong way to approach this problem right now, but it is important to be mindful of the issue.
Responsive design is not a buzzword or a fad, it is an important issue in the world of web design, and one that every business should take seriously. If you don’t take care of your mobile users, they will look elsewhere for your content and services.