Responsive Design, Do you really need it?

Posted on: March 8, 2013
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Website responsive design

Responsive design is a buzz word that is becoming popular throughout the web design and development world but what exactly is it and do you really need it?

I think this quote from the Smashing Magazine website best sums up what responsive design is:

Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.”

So just how does this impact you and your website?

With so many new devices currently out there and being launched on a weekly basis gone are the days when a website user simply switched on a desktop or laptop computer, clicked on Internet Explorer (I know, I know!) and then carried out a Google search. Things recently have moved on very quickly in terms of devices that can access the internet and guess what….. we want the internet 24/7 because hey that’s when its open!

Want to know when your local bar opens? Simply reach in your pocket, grab your shiny touch screen phone and lets Google it! Or perhaps you are sat on the loo with your shiny tablet device and you want to look at the latest offers available on your favourite clothing website, lets Google it! Ooohhh hang on wait just one moment…. The local bar website is tiny on my phone, I have to pinch and zoom to get to the navigation menu! and oh no, now I have clicked something in the process and all I can see is the interesting links page! Great!! I have found a new shirt on my favourite clothing site (whilst still on the loo) but wait one moment the size drop down doesn’t work and I can’t seem to get the add to basket button to work as it is much too small!! Aaarrrggghhh!

Whether or not you have had that same frustrating experience I do not know but the one thing I do is that there will be lots and lots of internet users feeling this pain as they try and navigate their way to finding out simple information or purchasing a simple product. Responsive design will help your website to not become a nuisance in this way to users as no matter what device is used to access your content or products your website will always remain highly visible and useable. A responsive design will stretch and fit your website into any space; this may be 60” smart television or a small touch screen MP3 player with 3G or WiFi.

So now you know what responsive design is do you really need it?

The first way to look at answering this question is delve into your website analytics. If you are using something like Google Analytics you will see that you can break your traffic down into devices, some of you will now be shocked as to how many visits you get from mobile devices where as some of you may not find many at all. It is estimated that across the board most websites receive 20% of their traffic from mobile devices, not much I here you say but let’s put that into perspective. If you receive 10,000 hits per month on your website that is a staggering 2,000 users that are possibly accessing your site from a mobile device and yelling aaarrrggghhh! Now the even bigger question pops up…. Have you checked how your site performs on these devices? I am always surprised at the legions of businesses that do not.

Now the other food for thought is that with all these new mobile devices being launched at varying price points the mobile web is becoming very accessible to many, so surely this is going to increase the amount of users accessing your website from a mobile device? In short YES it is! Oh and one thing I forgot to mention is the launch of superfast 4G, which as its coverage increases up and down the country and the cost decreases will have us all reaching for our shiny new phones more!

Our conclusion

To conclude this brief trip through responsive design we have suggest that yes we do feel that responsive design is something that all website owners should consider because it can be a very cost effective way to ensure that your website works perfectly on all screen sizes and platforms. Do not worry that you have just had your new desktop only website built because a good website designer and developer can make some coding changes to the already existing code base to ensure that the website responds to these mix of devices, how big these changes are depend on how the website has been built but in most cases on a brochure style site the work required is not much.

Author: Will

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