A responsive website is one that can adapt to fit most screen sizes and window and device types. Essentially, having a responsive website means that your website looks great for every user—regardless of where or how they are viewing it.
We’ve touched on responsive websites in previous articles, but have yet to do a deep and comprehensive dive. Well, folks, the time is now! We hope you have your smart-person glasses on; here’s everything you need to know about the complicated topic.
In the design world, you’ll often hear the phrase “Responsive Web Design,” or RWD. This is a term used to describe the act of making a website more adaptable to different screen sizes, window types, and device types.
As with all areas of design, there are varying degrees of success when it comes to RWD. You could try to design a responsive website by yourself or with the help of a novice design friend. But if you truly want a responsive website, it’s worth spending the extra cash to hire a designer who knows what they’re doing.
We’ll talk about why it’s worth investing in a responsive website in just a bit. But before we get there, we want to give you an overview of what RWD entails.
Again, a responsive website is one that can detect a user’s screen size, device type, and orientation. It can also make changes to the layout of the page to optimize the user’s experience. To do that, a responsive website must have:
Adaptive, or flexible, images are ones that don’t have any display size restrictions. In other words, they are large enough to render well at any size without losing their clarity. A skilled designer can also work to display a different crop of the image (or sometimes even a different image altogether) depending on the user’s device type.
Responsive websites must be built on flexible grids. This allows certain features to adapt if they look good on one screen size but bad on another. For example, line length is one feature that should be flexible across all devices.
Thankfully, there are a few adaptive layout technologies that make this process possible. The ones you should know about are:
A quality web designer will know how to use these methods to make a website fully functional and appealing across a range of devices and window types.
An adaptive layout will also enable adaptive typography so that a website’s written content remains legible across all devices. Basically, this means that type size will vary depending on the device a user is searching from. In some cases, the content can even change from one column of text to two or more, depending on the screen size.
Nowadays, responsive websites are the golden standard for businesses both big and small. In other words, you absolutely need one. But we want to reiterate: this type of design is not easy. You can trust us to be honest with you when a design or marketing tactic is something you can try at home. Unless you have a background in CSS and/or HTML, this is not one of those times.
For the modern web user, a responsive website is an expectation, plain and simple. If you want to appeal to anyone searching from a laptop, desktop, cell phone, or tablet, you need to ensure that your website is up to snuff. (Keep in mind that over 60% of internet users prefer to search from a mobile device.)
Some designers will offer to set your business up with a dual-version solution, meaning that you have one website for desktop and one for mobile. But this is generally a bad idea as it means you’ll be stuck investing double the time and money into two totally separate entities.
Overall, a responsive website will save you time, enable faster loading times, and make your content accessible to every user. It might cost you more upfront, but it’s totally worth the investment.
Of course, anything that benefits the user benefits you, the business owner. But are there other advantages to RWD on top of UX?
Uh, yes. Quite a few.
For starters, responsive websites are prioritized by Google. So your SEO efforts will get an automatic boost. Plus, by avoiding a dual-version solution for your website, you’ll also avoid the risk of duplicate content. (Duplicate content is what happens when more than one copy of your written content exists online—something that Google does not view favorably.)
Another major benefit? Adaptive websites are more likely to be shared on social media. And we don’t have to tell you that the more shares you have, the bigger your audience and (hopefully) the more you can sell. We recommend that you capitalize on this benefit by adding social share buttons to your mobile-friendly webpage.
Well, there you have it: the lowdown on what we mean by “responsive website” and how it may benefit your business. If you have additional questions about RWD, you know our door is always open!
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