What is Responsive Web Design?

Posted by Hedley Swann on 14 February, 2013 in Responsive Web Design

Have you ever visited a website using your smartphone and found yourself having to pinch and zoom around and scroll side to side to be able to read content, click links and generally use the site? This website was not responsive.

Responsive web design is the web industries answer to the growing number of sophisticated smart mobile devices that can access the web. You see, a few years ago there were desktop computers, laptops and the iPhone. Large business, with resources to spare, were able to create and maintain a desktop version of their website and a mobile version of their website. However, today we have hundreds of different phones, tablets and netbooks on the market all with varying sized screens, and small businesses are using the web more and more to engage their audience. Do we maintain a version of our website for each different device at a huge cost? Of course not, so what do we do?

Create a device independent website that responds to the different screen sizes it's viewed on.

To design a responsive website, we use modern web techniques to allow content to scale, wrap and fold to the size of the screen it's being viewed on. We can also set points along the way when key design elements of the page, such as navigation, change to suit smaller devices. It's also important to take into account that most of these new devices are touch enabled. This means making design choices that enhance the usability of the website when using our fingers to interact with it.

Responsive design allows small businesses to reach their mobile audience whilst only having to maintain a single website. It also increases the longevity of a Darwin small business website, as the site will display well on future devices not yet released.

Since 2011 we've seen an explosion in the number of people accessing our Darwin client's websites via mobile devices. For most of our clients, approximately 25-30% of visitors to their website are using a modern tablet or smartphone. Some of our clients are nudging 50%. With at least 1 in 4 of your potential customers viewing your online presence on a mobile device having a responsive website is fast becoming a no brainer.

Take Away:

As the number of people accessing the web through mobile devices increases, and the range available smart phones and tablets grow, it is important to consider how your customers will be accessing your business website. Ensuring that the mobile experience is just as good as the desktop experience is key to ensuring that visitors to a small business website continue to convert into customers.