Have you ever heard of responsive design? It’s another one of those industry buzz words that I’d like to break down in this post. By the end, you’re going to know exactly what responsive design means and, more importantly, why you should care. Let’s get to it.

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What is Responsive Design?

In basic terms, responsive design means that a website will “respond” accordingly to meet the viewing requirements of every user’s screen.

When someone visits your site on their smartphone, they’ll see a website that’s optimized for their smaller screen. It won’t be the same layout as on a desktop computer because there’s less space. It won’t even be the same across multiple types of phones, because screen sizes differ.

For this reason, a responsive design is mobile friendly. It allows your site visitors to have an enjoyable experience on your site, no matter what device they’re using.

Mobile is the Way of the Web

It may be hard to believe this, but less than 10 years ago, smartphones didn’t exist. At least, not the way that they do now.

In less than a decade, we as a human species have so universally accepted the smartphone that it’s hard to find someone without a smartphone. Observe:


Image Courtesy of Kenya Social Ventures

Smartphone usage is so massive that more people around the world access the Internet from their smartphones than from desktop computers.

This means that your website needs to look and function well on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, too.

It’s not enough to have a website that looks good on desktop computers anymore. If a visitor accesses your website from their smartphone (and chances are, some will), what type of experience will they get?

Do they pinch to zoom your content? *shivers*

[Tweet "You must provide a solid user experience that welcomes all visitors, despite their viewing device."]

Because smartphones and tablets have smaller screens, your site should display differently on those screens to accommodate them.

Improves Your Site’s Ranking in Google

Recently, the gods at Google issued an edict that says (and I’m paraphrasing): if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you have absolutely no chance of landing on the prized first page of search results.

Let’s break this down.

You create a site and you want people to visit it. You want it more than anything in the world.

There are several ways to make it happen. You can send your website link to all of your friends, but you still want more people to visit-- people you don’t even know.

In order for that to happen, you’ll need to appeal to the search engines (mainly Google and Bing) through a process known as search engine optimization, or SEO for short.

But here comes the punch in the gut: no matter how many keywords you use, if your website doesn’t play well on mobile devices, you’re never going to make it to the first page. EVER.

Even if your website is on the front page now, if your website looks wonky on mobile, Google will find you and… well, it won’t be pretty.


Image Courtesy of QuickMeme.com

Faster Load Time

A responsive website loads faster.

When it comes to website loading time, each second you can shave away helps a ton. Website visitors get restless and will hit the back button if they have to wait three seconds for your site to load.

That’s right. One, two, three.

Not only will a mobile friendly website look better on mobile devices, it will load quicker. The front end and the coding underneath will work together to increase display speed and enhance functionality for the mobile visitor.

Increased Usability

Up until now, we’ve focused on search engines. While search engines can help bring traffic to your site, it’s also important to have a solid experience once those visitors arrive on your site.

I know this may be hard to believe, but site visitors take it personally if your site isn’t mobile friendly. A recent study found 48% of visitors believe that if a site isn’t mobile friendly, the company doesn’t care about their business.

Ouch. I know that’s not the impression you’d like to give off. But if your site doesn’t play well on mobile devices, that’s exactly what visitors are thinking.

On the bright side, 74% of visitors are more likely to return to your site if it’s mobile friendly.

Think about the last time you used your phone to search the web. You probably wanted specific information and an easy way to get there. You wanted simple, intuitive navigation. The last thing you wanted to do was shift around images like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.


Image Courtesy of Giphy

Having a website that’s optimized for mobile viewing means that you’ll improve user experience on your website.

Mobile Visitors Buy More Stuff

Do you sell products or services on your website? Desktop Dan isn’t the only one buying your stuff. In fact, Tablet Tim and Smartphone Sally (where am I getting these names from?) are actually buying more* products from you.

*That is, if you have a mobile friendly website.

Going back to our good old statistics file, 67% of mobile shoppers are more likely to buy from a mobile friendly website. It all boils down to trust. If your website looks shifty on a mobile device, why would someone want to give you their credit card details?

Here in the US, approximately 30% of all commerce comes from mobile devices. In less than 10 years, a third of our national economy is now supported by mobile e-commerce. By 2018, that number is expected to rise to approximately 50%.


Image Courtesy of Internet Retailer

All of that is not just from app purchases, either. While studies show that smartphone users are more likely to buy items under $10, that cap is completely done away with on tablets. Tablet users actually spend 50% more than smartphone users. In fact, they even spend more than desktop users, too.


Image Courtesy of Fast Company

Future Proof

Last, but certainly not least, a mobile friendly website is one ready to face the future. We all know that technology evolves at rapid speed. To date, we have everything from stationary devices, such as desktop computers, to wearable tech, like smartwatches.

If you want to stay relevant, you’ve got to be accessible. You can do that by ensuring that your website is well-structured and capable of responding to different viewing screens automatically.

Some people try to answer this demand by creating multiple versions of the website-- one for each screen size.

Not only is that a waste of time, money, and resources, it’s also a extremely impractical. There are way too many screen sizes nowadays.

Instead, you’ve got to deliver a site that looks great on whatever device your visitors use to access your site. That’s where I come in. If you’re totally convinced about the need for a mobile friendly website, let’s discuss the details of how we can work together to make an amazing website experience.

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