Responsive Design: Is it Right For You?

With mobile expected to surpass desktop browsing in the near future, now is more important than ever to consider a mobile website.

Traditionally, separate websites are made to be viewed on a mobile device and desktop. When opening the page on a mobile device, you would be redirected to the mobile version of the website. In some instances this is still the best option. Responsive design, however, offers a very cool way to combine both websites into one.

What is Responsive Design?
A website that uses responsive design will adapt to its environment The size of the browser you are viewing it from will determine the way the website appears. There is one website for all devices. It may be difficult to understand what I am talking about if you have never seen this before. Check out http://mediaqueri.es for great examples. Open up any of the websites shown and resize your browser window. You will see how the layout of the website responds to the changing size.

So, what are the benefits?
Although the idea is relatively new, responsive design is proving to be a powerful way to create quality websites while improving marketability and SEO.

Responsive design uses far less time and is a little easier on the wallet than some other ways of designing for mobile. You will no longer need to design and develop a new website for all the different kinds of devices out there. You can say goodbye to developing apps for both iOS and Android. You will have one website that does it all and works on all devices.

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Google SEO even loves responsive design. According to the overview of Google’s recommendations for smartphones (Check out https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/ for the full list of recommendations.)
“Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design” There are a few reasons Google recommends responsive design; the main one being that only having one URL is better than having many. It creates a direct path to you, giving you a higher ranking and increasing traffic because it is combining numbers you would get from having multiple sites.

Responsive design is also user-friendly. Site visitors will enjoy only having one URL to link to for sharing. They will love not having to zoom in and scroll around just to be able to read content on your site. It also will also give them a sense of familiarity upon entering your site on a mobile device. They will feel as though they are on the same website, not just a watered down mobile version. Basically, if you keep things simple and consistent, your users will be happy.

Things to remember with Responsive Design:
You must remember that responsive design decreases the amount of horizontal space your website takes up, pushing the rest of your content further and further down the page. Your users will want the most important information to remain near the top of the page. This may require you to eliminate some of the content once the page gets to a certain size (like images or, in some cases, links.) To prevent any valuable content from being lost or pushed too far down on the page, create a hierarchy of all the important elements and discuss this with your designer.

Keep in mind that in order to make this work your designer will have to create multiple layouts for each page. Therefore to do this, it is often times easier to start from the ground up, instead of working off of an existing site. Yes this will cost you more in the beginning, but in the long haul it will prove to be a great investment.

In Conclusion:
Whether or not you create a mobile site is entirely up to you, but it is important to pay attention to what your users are saying. Take a look at your analytics report and see what people are using to view your site. If your viewers are switching to mobile, I would recommend responsive design be one of the first options you look into for making the switch. It is an all around good investment, and will keep both you and your users happy. If you aren’t sure if this is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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