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Responsive Web Design: A Primer

You’re probably already aware that it’s important for your business to have a mobile-friendly site. We’ve discussed the benefits before, and talked briefly about the two methods for creating a mobile site: adaptive vs. responsive. But which should you use?

Let’s make it simple. Unless you have a specific device that your site must support, your best bet is to design responsively.




Fluid and Flexible

The term “responsive web design” was coined by Ethan Marcotte and is an approach to web design that makes use of fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. Responsive web design aims to enhance the interaction experience by minimizing the need for manual resizing, panning, and scrolling when switching between different screen sizes (from your desktop computer to your mobile phone, for example).

Probably the best case for responsive web design is that it’s a good strategy for future-proofing your site. A well-designed responsive site should work with any number of existing and new devices, no matter what screen size they may use.


Should I Care?

Yes, absolutely. Especially when you consider that the majority of people these days use their smartphone as their primary internet device. If one of your customers has a bad mobile experience on your website, they may not be a customer much longer.

Another reason you should care is because Google cares. Beginning in April of 2015, Google began placing more importance on mobile-friendliness as a ranking criterion. Not only that, but Google now recommends responsive web design above other methods. You can test the mobile-friendliness of your site using their Mobile-Friendly Test tool here.


Sounds Good, What’s the Catch?

There’s no catch, but there are a few things of which to be aware. One of the biggest benefits to having a responsive site is that you only have to make changes and updates in one place, to one URL. When you have multiple sites (i.e. a website and mobile website) you have to re-do the work. The downside is that, since your content (a photo or text, for instance) will be viewed across multiple screen sizes, it’s important to optimize your code and images as much as possible. Cost can be another factor, as building a responsive web design site properly can take more planning and development.

Before diving in, take a look at what others are doing with responsive web design.

In conclusion, responsive web design will help ensure that your customers will be able to view and interact with your site successfully on the device of their choice. That makes for happy customers, and who doesn’t want happy customers? If you’re ready to go responsive, give us a call.