Responsive web design is the answer to those long hours spent wondering how to make your website easily viewable on every device. It takes all the work out of making an adaptable website a reality. The main goal of responsive web design is to allow websites to automatically resize to fit the screen size of the device it is being used on, meaning that your website can be viewed fully on any device a customer may decide to open it from, without the need for things such as separate mobile compatible versions of the site. Previously creating separate mobile sites was the only way to get content to display correctly on the device without any sizing issues, which equals more work, maintenance and makes business a lot harder to control. Responsive design completely stops this by automatically detecting what device the website is being loaded on and automatically resizing to suit the individual screen size, whether it is being held landscape or portrait. There are three main components of responsive design that allow it to work as well as it does:
Rather than having a layout made up of set pixel measurements, fluid layouts run on percentages. This eliminates the need for multiple sites to cater to each screen size, as rather than naturally sizing to the set pixel measurements it would have been built with, responsive design works out it components based on the percentage space they take up on a screen. Resulting in a page that will automatically stretch and shrink information in order to fit it to a screen size correctly, no matter what size screen is being used. Settings can also be used to determine when layouts will need to completely rearrange, such as on eCommerce store product pages. On desktop screens each category page will commonly show results in a set of four or five columns, but when opened in mobile the website will likely only show one long column of items so images and text are still decipherable.
When building a website images will always be uploaded at a certain size, and that can become a problem when a browser is trying to resize them upon loading. So a crucial part of a responsive design is the ability for images to automatically have their viewed size optimised depending on the size of a customer’s screen. Not having images that respond in this way would do damage to website speed, page loading time and overall appearance, effectively wasting all the hours of work that went into making a beautifully seamless website and putting many customers off. However responsive images can still have a negative effect on speed if they were uploaded at exceptionally large sizes to begin with as the browser will have to do more work in order to download and optimise the image before it can load and be displayed. More work may need to be done over time to optimise images further to improve page speed such as optimising the file size of the image before it is uploaded to the website to begin with rather that the physical dimensions of the image as this can affect quality when loading at larger sizes. Images should always be the smallest file size possible whilst still displaying well on larger devices.
Of course on smaller devices such as mobile phones a website is not going to display in the exact same way as a desktop version would, things will need to display differently and some things may not need to be shown at all. This is where media quotes come in, they give the browser information on the website differences between devices. It is used to help streamline usage and what shoppers experience, making the website as easy as possible to navigate at any screen size. It can be used to give information such as maximum widths, device heights and orientation to help decipher what website display it should use and can be used to get rid of items completely. For example if a piece of content needed to be shown on desktop and tablet devices but not on mobile, it would be possible to use a piece of code that stops the content from showing on only mobile devices. Without this ability the content would show up on every device when the website was opened rather than the ones it was intended for.
So why would you need it?
More mobile users
Mobile use is booming and along with it so are online purchases. Most adults and teenagers now own a mobile that offers them connection of WIFI or mobile data that allows them to surf the web from pretty much anywhere that they can get a signal. Not taking advantage of the fact that most people carry their mobile phone with them at all times is a hugely missed opportunity when you could be offering them optimised instant shopping right at their fingertips. For those with a busy lifestyle or those who simply hate shopping, the convenience of being able to shop for the items they want online is too good to ignore, especially when they can do it through their mobile whilst commuting or on work lunch breaks.
As the responsive design would be made perfectly for any device, the huge amount of mobile customers you will bring in will have a better experience with you. Simply receiving the benefits of a faster website with slower page loading times, all because you’re fully optimised website has recognised the mobile device being used. This is not just restricted to mobile however, all tablet users will experience this better design too with the improved optimisation responsive designs offer, meaning there will be no more zooming in and out or side scrolling in an attempt to view the whole page that is not being correctly displayed. Instead they will see a perfectly arranged website with nothing hidden at the sides of their screens, meaning less frustrated website visitors and more satisfied shoppers.
Only having to build and maintain one website for all devices has so many benefits. Not only does it save time, it saves money and the ongoing future maintenance of both sites, there are no extra websites and no sub domains. Having every shopper go through the same website makes the business easier to control, every shopper experiences the same things at the same time and it allows your company to focus its time into improving and creating great content to showcase on your website rather than spending it duplicating content for different sized screens. Not to mention the fact that all SEO would be for one website rather than two, meaning less work needs to be put into promotion to get all device views up to the same standard. The saving in investment on site builds, maintenance, employee time and SEO strategist should be a stepping stone in the way to better ROI as you are investing less for the same results.