What is Responsive Design and Why Does My Site Need it?

What is Responsive Design and Why Does My Website Need it?

If your business has a website, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about responsive design lately. So what is a responsive website?

A responsive website is the same site – same links, same content –on every device. The only difference is that it is coded such that it will automatically resize its various elements for whatever size device it is being viewed on – whether it’s a 1200 x 800 monitor (the most common worldwide at 19.5% market share) or a 320 x 480 smartphone (11.4% market share). Of course, device size market share remains fluid, and probably changed while I was writing this sentence, which is what makes an adaptive design more important than ever. Source: Global Screen Size Diversity infographic.

Have you ever pulled up a link on your phone while you’re out and about, only to end up emailing it to yourself to look at later on a bigger screen? I have. What if YOUR website was the one that got emailed, and then subsequently forgotten? That’s what we call a missed business opportunity.

If your business isn’t taking advantage of responsive web design right now or planning on it in the very near future, you might be in danger of going out of business in 2014. There are three exceptions to the rule;

  1. you don’t depend on your website to stay in business,
  2. you have no competitors, or
  3. you are familiar with responsive design, you’ve already verified it’s not the right fit for you and you have an alternative mobile strategy.

If any of these three apply to you, then you’re ok, carry on. But if your company depends on its website enough that losing the business it brings to you would be a serious blow, getting a responsive website before the end of the year should be your number one business goal for 2014!

How mobile responsive affects development cost

While it’s rapidly becoming the standard, mobile responsive DOES increase the number of hours, and the skill level, put into both design and development, so you can expect it to cost a bit more than a standard, non-adaptive website, say 20-25%. But if having to pinch and zoom and scroll and email a link to themselves causes you to lose a client – isn’t it worth it?

The future is mobile

So is responsive design just the latest fad, or something you really need consider?  According to Pew Internet, 63% of adult mobile phone owners use their phone to go online, and 34% of those who go online with their phone do so mostly from their phone, and don’t use a desktop or laptop computer for internet access. And research firm IDC estimates that more people will access the internet through a mobile device than a PC.

Clearly responsive design isn’t just a gimmick, – it’s the closest thing to future-proofing your website, in a world that’s moving toward an infinite number of sizes of mobile, touchable interfaces.

Have you taken your website responsive? Have you seen benefits from the change?