Is a Responsive Web Design the Way to Go? -  Vistage Executive Street Blog

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Is a Responsive Web Design the Way to Go?

Online presence has never been so important. Your business should be searchable on Google or you will lose a large number of potential customers. However, putting up a website is not enough. With people going mobile nowadays, you need to catch their attention before other businesses can. Creating a website and a dedicated mobile app can be expensive. Why not try developing a website with a responsive design?

What is a responsive web design?

Also known as RWD, responsive web design is an approach that combines carefully organized content, code, layout, and media elements that can respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, device type, orientation and platform. Responsive web design eliminates the need for mobile dedicated apps. It aims to serve a huge audience who view online content through different handheld devices. For example, people who use computers and people who use mobile devices should be able to go to the same website using the same link.

The key feature of a responsive web design is its flexible grid. Content is organized into areas that can be moved around in a very flexible layout. It should also be able to resize images without losing quality. Most websites implementing RWD uses CSS3 Media Queries to determine the resolution of the device viewing the website. The website can then rearrange its contents to provide maximum viewing capacity. Examples of sites utilizing these are online resource website About.com, British custom awning manufacturer Nationwideltd.co.uk, and percussion instrument company Remo.com.

Why should you implement responsive web design on your website?

A 2012 survey by ComScore predicted that mobile Internet users will increase from 800 million in 2009 to a whopping 1.9 billion in 2015. While desktop Internet users will be as many as 1.6 billion in 2015. This year, TechCrunch predicted that mobile devices will overtake desktop PC’s as an Internet platform. Majority of Internet users are already utilizing mobile devices, but desktop users cannot be ignored as well. As a small business owner, you should be aiming to market your products and services to a wide audience. And with the rise of even more devices with sizes in between 5 inches and 7 inches called ‘phablets’, it is very expensive to develop a dedicated app or website for every device.

Is mobile responsive design the way to go?

Image via Flickr

By taking advantage of RWD, you can save money and time than hiring several teams to create different websites for every platform. Developers can improve your website’s layout and SEO as they are aiming to target diverse screen sizes. Aside from going social, you also get to reach more customers at once without spending much money.

Responsive web design is also the newest trend in web development. In fact, Mashable even dubbed 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design. This means that RWD is all over the internet. You can find fast resolutions in case your team encounters issues during development. Aside from that, responsive design templates are available for very low prices. There are even WordPress themes available for under $50 and some are even free.

Of course, you won’t jump off the cliff without checking if your parachute works, right? There are a few things to consider before you invest your hard earned cash in developing websites with RWD.

You have to realize that design is not enough. You have to work with your team and brainstorm how to present your ideas clearly and concisely on every webpage. Yes, you may not know much about HTML and CSS3, but you know your business and you are the only one who knows how to brand and present it effectively. You won’t gain any customer if your website contains unorganized and confusing content.

There is also such thing as responsive content management. You need to organize your content to make it easier for mobile users, especially the ones with small screens, to navigate through your website. Concise and shorter webpages should also be used as it is very difficult to scroll down when using mobile devices. By having each webpage focus on one thing at a time, you can even improve how images are presented and maximize SEO.

You also have to consider the download speed of your customers. If your main target are those living in areas where mobile internet is not yet fully developed, then you will be losing money as people won’t be able to access your website. Remember, users and potential customers have very limited attention. If they cannot view your website within the first minute, they will move on to another one.

Also, consider how you design a website. Poorly designed website implementing responsive web can be disastrous. Customers will not appreciate it if your content is jumbled and overlapping on the screen. This will give an impression that your business and products are unreliable. Also, if your website serves as a customer portal that implements complicated functions, such as uploading and downloading content or customizing web pages, RWD may hurt your business instead of improving it. In this case, develop a mobile app which can handle more complicated actions other than viewing your website or online shopping.

As with any business decision, you have to understand trends before diving into it. Responsive web design is still in its development stage and technologies used to implement it are still changing. Study your business and customers first before hiring a team to develop you RWD website. Analyze your marketing strategies and check if your investment in RWD will bear fruit in the future.