Why is it so important to make your web designs responsive?

Responsive web designing is being massively adopted by all small to large business. But why is it so necessary in the current time?

The adoption of smartphones and tablets over the last couple of years has spiked up enormously. No matter how much we realise that technology and devices are taking over our lives, we ultimately buy into it because it has become the world we live in. But that’s the beauty of technology, it evolves at such rates that even we the creators of it cannot grasp.

Before we knew it, responsive web designs went from just being an idea to being adopted by almost every single business that exist today no matter what the size. Responsive web designs allow one website to provide a great user-experience across many devices and screen sizes.

What led to this paradigm shift?

  1. Smartphones and tablets took over

The fact that PC’s are sold in millions a year whereas smartphones and tablets in billions proves the decentralization of PC’s. (Its interesting to ponder about whether there could be a new device very soon that completely centralizes smartphones.)

2. Recommended By Google

Google states that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and even goes so far as to refer to responsive web design as the industry best practice. And when google says something, we listen.

3. Easier to manage ‘Search Engine Optimization’

Responsive web design makes managing your SEO strategy Easier. Managing one site and one SEO campaign is far easier than managing multiple sites with multiple SEO Campaigns. From a marketing perspective it is very crucial to get you websites more traffic and obtain a higher search position searched from any device.

In web design we are constantly looking to test products to improve the user experience. And it is very important for any user or visitor of your website to get the best experience no matter would device they are viewing from.

Why is responsive design an ideal solution for you?

  1. One website to design build and update

When you opt for a separate mobile website, you need to build two different sites.

With responsive, it’s all the same. This not only saves time and money in the original design stage, but it also will make it a lot easier for your development team. With responsive designs, you can make design changes to your website and it gets reflected for all resolutions and screen sizes, it’s all done in one place.

2. It is more practical time-wise

The biggest advantage of using responsive design for developers comes down to how much time and effort you save.

For back-end developers, there’s only one version of the site to be updated. All the content could go in the same place, the entire project becomes a lot simpler.

For front end developers, the process is certainly a better choice than creating multiple stylesheets. Imagine all of your CSS code in a single place and no need for multiple edits for making a minor change in design.

Clients will also find it much easier and less time consuming to manage and maintain a single site with much less content to manage.

3. It is more cost effective

Building and Testing across a number of websites increases your development, support and maintenance overhead.

Responsive design solves this redundancy.

You can also further save money by “optimizing” for the most popular gadgets and simply “supporting” the others.

4. It is easier to maintain

When several versions of the same site have to be managed, it leads to a lot of effort on maintenance. If different people are handling the mobile and desktop sites, keeping everything in sync requires a great deal of communication and planning. This is certainly solved with a responsive design.

5. Stronger Online Presence

A lot of companies around the world cater to mobile visitors and have a specific mobile site that lives on a subdomain. This site looks different from the main website. Although it fits the brand standard it doesn’t feel like the original website.

With a responsive site, your design of the main website is exactly what is reflected on mobile and other devices. So it will give the exact same feel, unifying your website despite being viewed from a plethora of devices.

6. Increased conversions & lower bounce rates

If one of your goals from your main website is to get conversions, a responsive website is essentially a sales-ready one. Your conversion rates depend on whether your user has a satisfying experience and keeping in mind that the user is likely to visit from any device, the user should be willing to convert regardless of what device he is on.

If a visitor of your website arrives on a mobile and the user has to pinch or zoom into the website to look for anything, search box for example, the user is likely to bounce or leave the site.

Having a responsive site will certainly reduce your bounce rates. The user will be willing to spend more time around the website and will be more likely to navigate to other webpages of your website.

But wait adaptive or responsive?

GIF from Froont, a Latvian startup specializing in responsive web design

So first up, what’s the key differences between responsive and adaptive design?

A responsive design is fluid and adapts to the size of the screen no matter what the target device. Responsive uses CSS media queries to change styles based on the target device such as display type, width, height etc, and only one of these is necessary for the site to adapt to different screens.

An Adaptive design, on the other hand, uses static layouts based on breakpoints which don’t respond once they’re initially loaded. Adaptive works to detect the screen size and load the appropriate layout for it — generally you design an adaptive site for six common screen widths:

  • 320
  • 480
  • 760
  • 960
  • 1200
  • 1600

If you are designing a website from scratch, you are better off designing it to be responsive, so that every user is ensured to have a good user experience. Responsive designs hands down have a better layout than adaptive ones.While a responsive design will require more coding, in today’s world the majority of websites that are being newly designed are designed to be responsive because the result is simply better.

Having said that, theoretically, there is no big difference between responsive and adaptive web design, an adaptive design can make your design more manageable as you just need to consider few states. Practically, there are many responsive design problems while implementing, and the adaptive design is easier to be implemented and test.

So ultimately the choice is yours. Almost any kind of design idea has its own advantages and disadvantages. Think about your product or service and what would best suit it.

Tools and resources for building responsive sites

  1. Google resizer is a good resource to quickly preview your site on multiple devices.
  2. Responsive web designing tool is a tool that has been built to help with testing your responsive websites while you design and build them. You can enter your website’s URL into the address bar at the top of this page (not your browser’s address bar) to test a specific page.
  3. Responsify is a browser based tool, which allows you to create your own responsive template.
  4. ResponsiveSlides.js is a tiny jQuery plugin that creates a responsive slider using list items inside < ul >.
  5. Adobe Edge Reflow is one among many tools that make it possible to visually design a responsive website. Re-flow converts the Photoshop (PSD) files content into HTML and CSS and then visually adjusts the design using breakpoints in Reflow.

Final thoughts

Having the ability to offer your consumers a beautiful optimized experience no matter what their choice of device, means you will expand the reach of your service which will increase the chances you have of engaging with individuals.

‘Responsive’ isn’t just a buzzword anymore. It’s a must to stay ahead of competition. The approach is a clear winner in terms of effective results for your website.