Why Responsive Design Should Matter To You
How often has this happened to you: while you’re out with a group of friends, someone suggests it might be fun to go see a movie. Immediately the questions start – What’s playing? When are the showtimes? – but it’s no matter; you pull out your iPhone/Blackberry/Android, load up your web browser, and voila!, the information is right there at your fingertips.
We live in an era of mobile-everything, where the ability to make a phone call is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to features. Texting, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, apps, games, GPS, camera, flashlight (whew!); a cellphone has become an essential component of everyday life. It not only keeps us in contact with the world, but it provides us with a means to access a virtual wealth of information; everything from movie showtimes to driving directions and beyond.
It might surprise you to know that a whopping 8 percent of all web traffic comes from a mobile or handheld device. You might be saying, “Sure, that’s a great stat and all, but how does that effect me?” Think about it for a second: if you’ve used Facebook or Twitter on your mobile device, odds are good you have an app for them. That is, there’s a Facebook or Twitter icon on your screen that you click which opens up those social networks, and they load beautifully and display perfectly on your device. If you don’t have an app, you could also open your mobile web browser, go to facebook.com, and also enjoy a straightforward and easy user experience.
But what about other websites? How many times have you used your mobile phone to visit a website, only to have it look horrible when it loads? Everything looks way too big, nothing fits on the screen, and the only way to read a line of text is to magnify the page and then scroll back and forth, again and again! Needless to say, it makes for a horrible user experience, and the odds of someone re-visiting your site after that are slim.
So why do some websites look horrible on a mobile device whereas others, like Facebook, don’t? The answer lies in responsive design, a term you may have heard or seen quite a bit of lately. The beauty of designing this way is that it allows the website to adapt to whatever size screen you’re using, which means the site can expand to fill out the screen on a huge iMac monitor, or it can shrink down to fit perfectly when viewed on a mobile phone. That is, it is responsive to your monitor size.
Most web agencies are urging their clients to consider having their site developed responsively, since it accommodates that 8% of web traffic we talked about. It’s also a heck-of-a-lot cheaper to develop a responsive website than it is to develop a costly app, which is always a bonus. Which is really the main thing to take away from this article: contrary to popular belief, you don't need to go through the rigorous process of developing an app to display information in a mobile-friendly way -- all you need is a responsive website.
If you’re in the process of having a website created for your business, inquire about responsive design. Your mobile viewers are sure to thank you.