Smartphones and tablets have changed the approach toward design and user experience. Before the proliferation of mobile devices with advanced web-browsing capability , web designers had only one primary challenge to deal with – keeping the same look and feel of their websites in various desktop computer browsers.
However, interacting with websites on smartphones and tablets is not the same as doing that on a desktop computer monitors. Factors such as Click versus Touch, Screen-size, Pixel-resolution, support for Adobe’s Flash technology, optimized markup and many more have become crucial while creating websites with Responsive Design. But, why is responsive design so important for your website? Before we understand that, we must understand what is “Responsive Web Design”.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach of laying-out and coding a website such that the website provides an optimal viewing experience — ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
The designer creating a Responsive Design should ensure that the website’s navigation elements, screen-layouts, text, images, audio/video players and other UI elements re-adjust themselves on a variety of devices. Thus, one need not spend extra time and money in creating and maintaining one “mobile-site version” and another “desktop-site version” of her website.
Google has long recommended using responsive web design to support different devices and screen sizes, but the search engine took this recommendation a step further last year when they began adding a “Mobile Friendly” label to websites that used this approach when those sites appeared in a search results page on a mobile device. Google said at the time that they envisioned using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in the future. Well, as of April 21st 2015, that came to fruition and Google began rewarding sites that were built responsively for multi-device support. By doing so, Google is effectively penalizing those that are not, making responsive web design an important factor in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy plans!
While, content is king and discoverability of content are foremost success metrics, it is the user experience that enables visitors to consume content on any website through the device of their choice and preference, anytime. A responsive web design ensures that users get the best and consistent experience of a website on any device of the user’s choice and preference – be that the iPhone, the iPad, the smartphones running the Android OS, or the Windows OS and several others. As a result website owners and content publishers can need not exercise the option to build versions of their website for every popular device platform which they expect their audience might be using.
The notion that making a responsive website is expensive is just that, a notion. The fact is, while the cost to make a responsive website is somewhat more than making a conventional website, but the expenses to duplicate a website for mobile and other devices gets completely eliminated, as a result – that cuts total development costs, significantly. In addition to that, a responsive design cuts the total ownership cost, by means of taking away the effort to maintain different versions of a website i.e. a “desktop-version”, a “mobile-version”. Thus, in the long term, investing in responsive website design is the smartest decision.
Nowadays it is smarter to adopt the responsive web design approach. One of the best things about a responsive website is that it gives you the best chance to support newer devices and screens in the future. Responsive sites are fluid, scaling up or down as needed to best fit the screens being used to access the site. This means that as new devices hit the market with screen sizes unlike what we have seen before, our responsive websites will already be prepared to meet those new devices with a design and experience best suited to whatever screen sizes they throw at us. Now more than ever, digital content is meant to be viewed on a spectrum of different experiences. Responsive web design offers the way forward.