If you are in the market for a new website or keep on track of web trends you may have noticed the phrase ‘Responsive’ being banded about with increasing frequency. This is a brief oversight of what the term means and why it is vitally important to your business website.
So What is it? – A bit of History
The new generation of tablets and smartphones that have come to the market in recent years and the increasing reliance on them for browsing the web created a problem for traditional web development. In the past, as most monitor displays had a similar size and resolution, nearly all websites were created to a standard size. This was generally taken as the most relevant size to fit in a standard internet browser window.
As it became possible to view webpages on a mobile phone it became apparent that most websites would not accurately fit on the screen. To view the full page users would have to scroll left and right (which would involve a lot of button pressing before touchscreens were introduced). To combat this problem website developers began to develop dedicated ‘mobile’ versions of the original websites. These mobile sites would have a standard screen width that would be taken as the most common or ‘average’ screen size for internet-enabled mobile phones. Often the mobile version would be a ‘stripped-back’ version of the full desktop site, meaning that users wouldn’t be able to access the full range of features on their mobile. Building an additional mobile site also meant a lot more time taken and extra expense.
The introduction of tablets and smartphones onto the market has made developing websites for different devices even more complicated. Now there are many different screen sizes and it is impossible to develop different versions of the same site for every device.
The answer to this is the responsive website. Advancements in web coding (HTML5 and CSS3) mean that a website can now be developed to automatically fit perfectly to the device it is being viewed on. Images can be made to shrink and enlarge dependant on browser size and content is divided into invisible percentage-sized columns that change in response to the device size.
For the past 18 months all of the websites I have developed have been responsive. Developing sites in this way is more time consuming and complex and requires a period of testing on as many devices and screen sizes as possible before the sitshe is launched. The touchscreen element also needs to be considered; buttons need to be larger and mobile navigation should avoid drop down menus and anything that requires the traditional ‘mouse over’ function (when you hover over an element with the cursor). Speed of mobile sites is also of vital importance as although mobile devices are becoming progressively quicker they are still not quite as fast as the average laptop or desktop.
The numerous benefits of a responsive website make its implementation essential. A properly developed responsive design means that people can access your website ‘on the move’. For a café/restaurant or shop this may mean that they can quickly check your menu or products and visit your location immediately… instant conversion! E-commerce sites can also be made responsive meaning that people can order your products wherever they are and whatever device they are using. Whatever type of site you have, a properly optimised responsive website allows you to maximise the amount of time that people can be online and browsing your site, which can only be a good thing.
Perhaps most importantly Google is now giving preference to ‘mobile friendly’ websites in search rankings. So if you suddenly find your site falling down the rankings it could be because it does not have responsive capabilities. If this is the case then it should be time invest in a high quality, optimised website that will put you ahead of your competitors. Please check out some of the responsive websites I have developed here and if you have any questions or would like a free quote then please get in touch. Give your business the web platform it deserves!