Responsive web design isn’t just an industry buzzword. It’s an essential component of an online business strategy. As more and more consumers begin using tablets and smartphones to browse the web, it becomes increasingly important that your website is accessible and usable from these devices. Neglecting mobile accessibility of your website may alienate consumers, preventing your business from thriving online.
Responsive Web Design for Varying Screen Sizes
Complex desktop sites, while attractive and functional on large monitors or laptop screens, aren’t practical for mobile use. In the confined space of a smartphone or tablet screen, the layout may not render properly. It can become distorted and extremely difficult to navigate. Websites that are not mobile optimized can be extremely frustrating for mobile internet users. Imagine intensive scrolling from side to side in addition to up and down.
Responsive web design ensures that a desktop site can be viewed properly from a mobile device. Responsive webpages automatically re-size themselves to the browser size. No horizontal scroll bars are necessary because the page automatically aligns itself for optimal viewing. Regardless of display resolution or browser dimensions, the webpage will render quickly and in a straightforward, easy-to-use layout. Why? Because responsive web design is built upon a powerful, flexible foundation. It incorporates fluid grids, flexible images and media queries that allow the page to adjust to any display.
Compromising with Adaptive Design or A Special Mobile Only Site
Websites that lack the ability to migrate to a fully responsive website may resort to adaptive web design to meet their basic mobile needs. As the name implies, adaptive web design maintains the current desktop version of the website and adapts it for alternative purposes, including mobile websites. This offers much less flexibility in the web design.
In lieu of responsive or adaptive web design, many websites maintain separate mobile webpages. Although these are functional, they are not the best option for mobile browsing. Maintaining a separate mobile website can create confusing subdomains and time-consuming redirects that can dissuade users from interacting with the website at all. A real world example can be seen in US Presidential race. In a Smashing Magazine smackdown article they detail how the various campaigns are split with regard to a dedicated mobile site versus a site build upon a responsive design.
Measure Twice, Design Once
Before making the decision to spend money on modifying your website to be either responsive or adaptive, we recommend looking at the data. Web Analytics measures how visitors view a website, including mobile tracking. What’s your data saying? You’ll probably find that mobile access is trending upward as mobile devices are gaining in popularity.
Although it may take some adjustments, we believe establishing a functional mobile-optimized website is critical to online success. If your website doesn’t scale to fit on a smartphone or a tablet’s smaller screen, you may be losing a large portion of your potential customers. Transferring to an adaptive or responsive website that’s more user-friendly is just smart business.
How can we help?
Launching a website and need help with design? Or, are you tweaking your site so it’s mobile friendly?
We are the spectrum group, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.