Gone are the days when people could access the internet only through their desktops or laptops. Smartphones and other smart devices have dramatically altered the way people are approaching companies and searching for information on websites. This now means that web designers must now ensure that the look and feel of a company’s website must be consistent across all devices. However, viewing websites on handheld devices is not the same as viewing on a desktop or laptop, which has therefore made a responsive web design even more crucial than it has ever been. If you run a business, or even are someone who has a website, you would know that unless the website is fast and efficient, you could lose some serious traffic and business. It would be important to understand firstwhat a responsive web design is. Simply put it translates to an approach of creating and coding a website in a way that the website offers an optimal user experience – ease of viewing, efficient navigation, minimum actions such as scrolling, zooming in or out – and across an expansive range of user devices. Statistics prove that more than 50% users first check a company’s website on their smart devices and would abandon their ‘search’ if the website were unable to load in about 30 seconds! Without a responsive web design, you could leave money lying on the table. Some of the features of such a web design, it would seem, are:
- The web design should support multi-device viewing. Customers are always on the go. For a company / individual having a website this would mean that the website must work efficiently irrespective of the device on which it is viewed. The content visible on one device must be accessible on another too, ensuring consistency of information and user experience. Such multi-device accessibility is extremely critical in order to maintain continuity – for example, a user could be searching for some information while at office, and then need to leave office. She or he should be able to resume ‘searching’ for the information from any other device to maintain continuity. In addition, since smart devices would have smaller screens in comparison to desktops or laptops, the company’s website must be easily viewable on these screens too, thereby ensuring that the ‘search’ is not abandoned midway. Many a shopping cart is abandoned and much business is lost because customers are unable to navigate websites given their unresponsive design.
- The mobile only approach does not work since it increases effort for a company and makes a customer’s search inconsistent across devices. A highly responsive web design would be one, which a company could manage from a single location, making it easier for the company to keep the site updated and relevant. The good news is there are several tools and technology now available that allow a company to centralize the management of their website, while controlling the display of the website on a large number of devices / screens.
- The popular search engines and Google in particular highly recommend a responsive web design in order for it to be supported by various devices. Google has recently begun to add ‘mobile friendly’ to websites that have made the effort to create a responsive web design, thereby increasing the possibilities of such websites being viewed more often. Therefore, from an SEO perspective too, a user-friendly web design is highly recommended – Google ‘rewards’ such websites by giving them a higher search ranking on its pages. This additionally means that those companies without a responsive web design are being penalized by receiving a low ranking.
- Another great benefit of a responsive web design is that it future-proofs a website – makes it scalable, allowing it to support more and or new devices in the future. A good web design would ‘fit’ the screen of any device that may come into the market, irrespective of whether such devices were anticipated or conceived ever before. This would be a serious competitive edge for any company – a proactive move to grab the attention of future users, ahead of its competitors.