What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is building the website in such a way that it automatically adapts to the device from which it is being accessed. This article’s purpose is not to address the specific technical details involved in creating a responsive website design, but rather to clarify the definition and purpose of the responsive approach.
As developers, responsive web design is exciting simply because this means that we create a single site that adapts to all of the devices. We could previously achieve this same objective, however, it required creating a separate codebase for each individual device which was extremely tedious for developers and therefore costly to clients.
- Increased flexibility on mobile specific features
- Low initial expense
- Long term expense is greater (especially time investment)
- Maintainability is difficult
- Lack of consistency between devices
- Not optimized for search engines
- Maintainability is simple
- User experience continuity
- Search engine optimized
- High initial expense
- May not be compatible as a native mobile app
Why do we need responsive web design?
You might not need it. The answer to this questions depends on the nature of the website and how you are marketing it. The questions that should be asked is whether or not users will be browsing your site on their mobile devices. Mobile device internet browsing is up to 8% of total internet traffic now, which is a lot! Businesses that are forward thinking will adapt to the trends of their consumers.
Responsive design from a technological standpoint has enormous advantages simply because we are able to build one central access point for all data and design. To then have this same system scale across all platforms is a developer’s dream.
How important is it to my business?
If I were a business involved in online transactions, the first decision is whether or not the business needs a mobile app. If it does not, then we would recommend at least providing mobile browser compatibility. Whether you need responsive design or not depends on how often you need to update your website. Websites designed with responsive methods are much easier to maintain and give user’s continuity between platforms. For example, this blog is responsive. If you resize the window, the layout will change to meet the screen size. Since it is updated often (but not often enough), this blog’s responsive capabilities make it extremely easy to maintain and predict how the content will appear on the page. I don’t have to fire up my mobile version on my phone to know that it is going to look okay.
Obviously this also depends on what you are selling or doing online. What type of business are you? If you are selling a product or service to a market flooded with mobile devices (which is likely), then it might be a smart choice for you. However, there are certain types of products that people typically would not buy on their mobile devices. For example, I think it would be safe to say that consumers who purchased lawnmowers in the last year completed their transaction on a desktop whereas a significant number of ebooks had their associated transaction completed via a mobile device. It is all in the numbers, so let’s cut to the chase.
Mobile sales is definitely on the upswing and any business owner would be wise to be “responsive” to the trend. Get it?