Are you here because you want to know more about responsive web design? Do you really need a responsive website, and what is all the commotion about? Well, as it turns out the short and simple answer is “yes, your business does need a responsive website”.
Let us first define and explain what it is though.
The term “responsive” is used for 3 different meanings. This might be the source of any confusion you might have had. Sometimes when people say that a site is “responsive”, they’re referring to how “snappy” it is, and how quickly it responds to your actions. At other times, people will say that a site is “responsive” in the sense that it is intuitive to use.
When we say that a site is responsive, we mean that it utilizes responsive web design. When you see articles that talk about the “responsive revolution of 2014 and 2015”, they are referring to responsive web design.
What Is Exactly Responsive Web Design?
The simplest way to explain responsive web design, is to say “it’s web design that responds to your screen shape and size”. That’s not a perfectly clear answer, so let’s elaborate a little bit.
You know how if you use an iPhone app and flip the screen, the interface rearranges? You might be using the app in landscape mode, flip the iPhone to widescreen and the app rearranges? The buttons resize and change positions, some items flow out of screen, some fly into the screen etc.
This is how responsive web design works as well. It intelligently orders the website elements to suit the screen it’s being viewed on. Ideally, a responsive website should be intuitive and look great on any screen shape and size.
Don’t Be Fooled By Older Inferior Technology
Before the invention of responsive web design, we used to do something called “mobile sites”. This means that first we built a site to show on desktop computers. And then we built several mobile sites to show on different mobile devices. The technology would have to detect what device you are using and then show a different site based on this.
You might be able to intuit the problems with this approach. If you built one desktop site and one mobile site, you covered most surfers, but not all. If you based your desktop site on the average computer screen, it meant it looked too small on super-big screens, and it looked too big on small screens. If you based your mobile site on the average phone, it wouldn’t be readable on smaller screened phones (or require lots of scrolling).
You were also able to build a separate website for each device. Theoretically you could make a different mobile site for each kind of device. But this would be getting out of hand, imagine making 20 different versions of your website! And further, this didn’t solve the issue with different computer monitor sizes, just different mobile devices.
Responsive Websites Are The Future
A responsive web design doesn’t care how or where you are viewing the site. It literally uses an algorithm that can calculate out how to resize and re-arrange the site for optimal usability and readability.
Building a good responsive website is part art, and part science. The Malaysia web designer has to do some math and use some coding to make the design “think” about how it’s being viewed. But they also need to think about the aesthetics of each possible permutation.
A good responsive designer will make sure to test their design on every possible permutation of screen size and shapes.
And You Can Do Your Own Tests As Well
When we say that a responsive site responds to your screen-size, we don’t actually mean the actual physical monitor. We mean the browser space (viewport). On mobile devices, a browser takes up the entire screen, so there the viewport is the same as the actual screen.
On your computer however, you can use a mouse to resize and reshape your browser window. This is an excellent way to test a responsive design. Just open a responsive website and start reshaping and resizing your browser window. See how the website rearranges and adjusts to your window (viewport) changes.
But Why Is Responsive Web Design So Important To You Personally? Why Do You Need It?
It makes sense that you would want to make your website responsive. Just look at the facts; mobile phone usage has increased exponentially. In these past few years, you can see lots of people using different mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Let’s look at some mobile usage statistics. More than 20% of Google searches are done via smartphone or tablet. In the U.S., 25% of internet users use only mobile devices for online activities.
Projections are even more amazing for the end of this year. In 2014, more people are expected to access the internet on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers. There are approximately 4 billion mobile phones in the world. Out of those 4 billion mobile phones, 1 billion are smartphones.
The number of smartphone users is expected to drastically increase in the near future. Smartphone prices are decreasing and more people are able to afford mobile devices. Tablet use will also increase in the near future. Tablets are easy to carry and they have many advantages over laptops.
The conclusion is that you shouldn’t miss out on the extra traffic that responsive websites provide. If visitors see that your website is not responsive, they will exit the website. Why should visitors bother with an unresponsive website when your competition might offer visitors a responsive website?
Responsive websites can help you increase conversion rates. Why does this matter to you so much? Well, just look at the statistics. About 70% of tablet users have bought something over the internet during an average month. You are more likely to convert customers if you offer a responsive website that is easy to use.
People are lazy and they won’t bother with your website if it isn’t responsive. If a visitor can’t easily access your website on his or her smartphone, he or she will forget about your website.
When users realize that your mobile website is working well, they will know that you care about your business. Your reputation gets an instant boost whenever users are satisfied with your mobile website.