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What Is Responsive Web Design and Why Is It Important?

Responsive web design can be the difference between making a sale and the consumer quickly closing out of your shop, never to return. Think of yourself as a consumer for a moment. You are on your phone searching for a new t-shirt, but the site is clunky and you can’t find anything you are looking for. You would probably close the site after a few moments and move onto an easier to navigate website. It does not matter how good the product or the price might have been. Without responsive web design, a company loses the sale and that consumer will likely never come back. In this article, you will learn how to avoid this for your own small business. You will learn what responsive web design is and how it can benefit you.

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Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design refers to the process of formatting your website in response to a user’s screen size, orientation, and resolution to create the best user experience across devices. Oftentimes, the idea of responsive web design is brought up only regarding mobile sites. While responsive web design will help you create a necessary mobile-friendly website, mobile-friendly websites are not necessarily responsive. If a mobile-friendly website is not responsive, it will look small and strange on a larger screen. A responsive website will look nice no matter the size of the screen.

While you must format your website for different devices, you need not build a separate website for each device. Below are some of the ways that responsive web design will change your content to fit the device it is displayed on.

Landscape Vs. Portrait

Many devices such as phones and tablets can change orientation as fast as the user can turn their device. Responsive web design will automatically reformat your website so that the user can easily understand the content no matter which orientation they choose. 

Variations in Size

Smartphones have been getting bigger over the years, but they are still nowhere near as big as a desktop computer or laptop. Not only are there variations in size between different types of devices but types of the same device also have variations in size. Laptops, phones, and tablets all come in a variety of sizes. A responsive web design will resize your content so it is legible and engaging to your consumers across devices. Your images will not be larger than the phone screen it is displayed on and your text will not be so small that an ant could barely read it on a large computer. 

Text Layout

Responsive web design will adjust your text size and margins to fit a user’s screen. While one hundred characters give or take might look nice on a computer screen, a user will need to zoom out to see the same number of characters and zoom in to read the text. Responsive web design helps you avoid this hassle by automatically adjusting the margins and text size to make text easy to read.

web design benefits

Web Design Benefits

You will find that the advantages of responsive web design will improve both your viewers’ experience as well as your experience building and using your website.

Improved User Experience

The biggest benefit attributed to responsive web design is an improved user experience amongst all devices. Unnecessary scrolling and resizing are annoying and time-consuming. 

Consumers want to spend time shopping, not zooming in and out, trying to find the information they are searching for. This frustration is detrimental to customer relationships. Through responsive web design, you can improve your customer’s user experience.

Attract a Larger Audience

Nearly three out of four dollars spent online are spent from consumers’ phones, which makes up 72.9% of the e-commerce market. As such, a mobile-friendly website will not only help you attract a few more users but the vast majority of users instead. Responsive web design will help you easily create versions of your site for every device a consumer might use, opening you up to a larger audience. 

It’s a Ranking Factor

As of 2015, mobile-friendliness is a search engine ranking factor. In conjunction with other search engine optimization techniques, a mobile-friendly website should see an improvement in its rankings. 

It’s Time and Cost-Effective

With responsive web design, you only need to build one website. If you need to make changes to your site, you only need to make the change once for it to appear correctly on all platforms. 

Not only will designing a single responsive website save you time, but it will also save you money. Building and maintaining a single website is expensive, but having one for each site is unreasonable. 

Marketing Benefits

Responsive web design offers a big web design benefit regarding marketing. If you created a separate site for both desktop and mobile devices, you might find trouble choosing which site to link during the marketing and advertising activities. Using responsive web design means that you only have one link that will work for every user on every device. 

Consistency

Another of the many web design benefits responsive web design offers is consistency. Each time your website is formatted for a new screen, your branding and the general flow of the website should remain intact. While the layout might differ from tablet to computer to phone, the ultimate experience should feel the same to the user.

importance of responsive web design

Responsive Web Design Drawbacks

Although responsive web design is a great idea for almost all websites, some will find that it does not work for them.

Ugly Design

Unfortunately, not all sites look good on mobile devices. Responsive web design automatically formats your original design to the mobile format. While your desktop website might look wonderful, it might not automatically transpose as beautifully. 

Mobile vs. Desktop Offers

Perhaps you decide that you want to offer your mobile users a deal not available on desktop. With responsive web design, this could be difficult.

Too Generic

As the formatting is automatic, you could run into a problem where your responsive web design looks too similar to everyone else. Setting yourself apart from the competition is a key part of marketing. Your website needs to aid this process, not hinder it. 

Custom Web Design

Now that you understand what responsive web design is, you can start creating your responsive website. Follow these best practices while creating your custom web design for the best responsive functionality.

Responsive Breakpoints

In a website’s code, you should put responsive breakpoints to signal that a website needs to adjust to a new device. A breakpoint is a point in which a change needs to be made depending on the screen size, resolution, and orientation. You should put in the most commonly used device resolutions

Use a Fluid Grid

A fluid grid, as opposed to pixel measurements which are stagnant, will position web content in proportion to screen size. Heights and widths are scaled and divided into columns rather than measured. This allows your website to shift depending on the dimensions of the screen it is viewed in. 

Touch Screens

Almost all mobile devices and many laptops and even some desktops are equipped with touchscreen capabilities. While on one computer, the user might interact with their keyboard, on another device they are likely to navigate through a touchscreen. As such, you need to consider touch screens as you build your responsive website. For example, menu items and buttons need to be large enough to accommodate finger sizes. 

responsive web design

Test Your Website

To know if your website is responsive, you will need to test it on multiple screens. Look at it from your desktop and then your phone. Use a tablet and a smaller laptop. The more, real devices you have access to the better. Your custom web design should look good and work just as well as it does on the phone as it does on the desktop and everything in between.

If you do not have access to real devices, you can use one of these tools to simulate the devices. 

Responsinator

Responsinator is a free tool you can use to check your website’s responsiveness. All you need to do is enter your website’s URL and explore how it looks on mobile devices in both landscape and portrait view.

ViewPort Resizer

ViewPort Resizer is a free browser extension that offers forty-seven different screen sizes to test your website.

Screenfly

Another free option to test your custom web design’s responsiveness is Screenfly. You can test many different screen sizes on your phone, laptop, or computer.

Create Your Responsive Website

Now that you understand what responsive web design is, web design benefits, and how to create your custom web design with responsive functionality, it is time to start work on your website. You can either create your own website or hire someone to help you, but in the end, the website should work for any screen your user chooses to use. The user easily finds and buys that t-shirt no matter if they are on their phone or desktop.

FAQ:

  • How to create a responsive website?
  • Why do I need a mobile-friendly website?
  • How do I know if my website is responsive?
  • Why should I make my website design responsive?
  • What does it mean if my website design is not responsive?

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