With the ever increasing usage of mobile devices, it is important to give your customer the right user experience. Now I know that any mobile or tablet will display a webpage, but do you really want your customer’s zooming and panning around your site trying to find what they’re looking for? While some will persevere, most will leave and go somewhere else. This is where responsive web design can really make a difference.
So what is responsive web design all about?
Responsive web design is a web design philosophy that focuses on creating sites that give users an enhanced viewing experience. This includes features such as effortless navigation and reading, and a minimum of browser resizing, scrolling and panning. All of this takes place across a range of different devices, from desktops to smartphones.
In the past companies would create mobile specific websites in conjunction with their standard website, which will detect the users device and redirect them to the correct version. In practice this sounds great, but on closer inspection it comes with it’s own pitfalls.
- Increased build cost for your separate websites.
- Ever changing mobile platforms and resolutions.
- SEO problems for search engines to index multiple URL’s for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content.
- Redirection is needed for users to get to the device-optimized view, which increases loading time.
Also, user agent-based redirection is error-prone and can degrade your site’s user experience.
This is where responsive design really comes into its own, giving the pros of the mobile specific websites without any of the pitfalls listed above. Even Google loves responsive web design and have named it as standard or best practice. Responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML regardless of what device is visiting the site. It’s there for more efficient for Google to crawl, index and organise content.
Responsive design the conclusion
So now, when you hear web designers talking about responsive web design, you’ll know that it isn’t just about making a website look good and run smoothly on smaller, mobile screens. You’ll know that this design approach is based on the principle of making websites of all sizes provide the most optimal experience to the user — no matter what they’re using to view the site.
Responsive design is still a relatively new concept and is still evolving and changing. That’s why so many people still can’t agree on what makes responsive design…responsive design. Is it about seeing everything properly on mobile screens? Is it just about load times and high-quality images that will please the eye? Is it about a clean design and easy-to-read typefaces?
It’s all of that and more. In the end, it’s about enhancing the user experience, because no one wants to deal with a website that’s slow, blurry, hard to read, cluttered or difficult to navigate. If you’re in the market for a website and you haven’t considered going down the responsive route as yet, well hopefully this article will change your mind.
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About the Author
Philip Byrne, the founder behind eBuild Web Solutions, has been building bespoke, user-friendly websites for the better part of 22 years. He may not be a leprechaun, but he'll make sure your website is easy to find and use.