A responsive website is one that has been built to automatically detect a users screen resolution, and adjust it’s layout so that it fits the screen naturally, be it on desktops, tablets or smartphone.
Each screen has a different physical size (and a different pixel size) so as this changes from device to device (and from landscape to portrait orientation), so to, will the layout, design, and sometimes content, of the website.
If you look at a website on your smartphone and it is just a very tiny version of what you also see on your desktop then that is not a responsive website. It means that you will need to pinch to zoom in/out and swipe across to different areas which can waste time and become annoying.
The key aim of a responsive design is that the user is delivered the best possible user experience for the device they are using to view the website. And with this, also generate brand credibility, engage and retain users and improve conversions.
What are the benefits of a responsive design?
- User experience: Make it easy for users no matter what device they view your site on. Happy users lead to conversions and new clients.
- Cost/time savings: One responsive website means there is no need to create and maintain a separate mobile friendly site.
- Future Proofing: Mobile traffic is increasing and will continue to do so and as new device screen sizes are released you are already ready to deliver your content.
- Google ranking: Keeping all your traffic on one site (as opposed to desktop and mobile sites) boosts search engine visibility and eliminates any duplicate content issues.
do I need a responsive website?
Well, this depends on your audience and their browsing habits but for most it is a good idea. For this website, my new and awesome freelance portfolio, I used a responsive design because by looking at my google analytics stats, I can see that at present, around 15% of viewers are visiting my website on a mobile or tablet device. This is actually quite a low percentage (the average of my clients sites is around 25% and growing), but still represents a decent number of people who will benefit from a responsive layout.
Can I upgrade my old website to a responsive one?
Some sites may be easily updated to allow for a responsive design, but this depends on how the site was originally put together. Many older sites are coded in a way that is not easily updated and so it may be time to get yourself a new, responsive (and of course much better) website 🙂