Responsive Web Design Basics for Business Sites

April 04, 2013

Responsive web design is one of the hottest topics in Internet marketing -- and for once, the reality lives up to the hype.

In brief, responsive web design allows your website to recognize what type of device is being used to access it, and then displays your site in a format best suited to the device being used.

The huge benefit of responsive design is enhancing the user experience: mobile phone and tablet users will be able to view your site with less horizontal scrolling, less need of resizing and greater ease of navigation. This adds up to:

  • More visits to your site
  • Longer visits to your site
  • More positive experiences on your site

How important is mobile user experience? By 2015, the mobile web will be bigger than the desktop web. No business can afford to neglect mobile users.

Example of Responsive Web Design

Here's a site we did recently for Adjustable Forms, a concrete contractor. This is how the site's home page looks on my desktop:

And this is how the home page looks on my iPhone:

Notice how the mobile layout fits perfectly on my narrower iPhone screen, and how horizontally compact the navigation is. If you've ever used your mobile phone to navigate around a site without responsive design, you'll appreciate how easy Adjustable Forms is making your life.

The Need for Responsive Web Design Is Everywhere

Some firms we talk to -- particularly in B2B -- are reluctant to bother with responsive design, based on the assumption that their customers work exclusively or almost exclusively from desktops.

This can be a dangerous assumption. Adjustable Forms, as industrial and old-school as a business can be, recognized that its customers need to access its site from a building site or a vehicle.

Similarly, when I attended one of the world's largest packaging industry shows last fall, I was struck by how many conventioneers were using tablets and mobile phones to share information on their websites.

If manufacturers of concrete and packaging equipment see the need for responsive design, don't underestimate your own situation. Today's web users behave a lot differently than they did even a year ago.

How Much Does Responsive Design Cost?

Responsive design requires additional work at both the design and programming stages of a website development project; the amount of additional time varies depending on the complexity and size of the site. However, whether the cost increase is moderate or more than double, it's money well spent if it attracts sizable new traffic and enables your existing users to continue having a positive experience as they transition to mobile web access.

In some cases, firms believe so strongly in the mobile web that they invest in a separate mobile-specific site. This can be a smart option, especially for restaurants and similar consumer businesses, but in general, a mobile-specific site will be much more costly and is probably overkill.

Questions?

If you'd like more information about responsive design, shoot us an email or contact us via phone to talk to one of our specialists.

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