You might be thinking, what the heck is ‘Responsive Web Design’? I know I was and usually I am pretty on top of web design techniques. But you can’t know everything because there are always new things coming along especially in the ever-changing world of the internet.
Imagine my surprise when I found that responsive web design is actually a few years old. The idea just hasn’t been utilized a lot; but that should be changing very soon.
So what is it?
The idea behind responsive web design is to code a web page using cascading style sheets. The sheets automatically detect the size of the screen being used to access to page. Then the output from the page is adjusted to fit that size whether it is a phone, tablet, or monitor.
It is a pretty slick idea that a few large companies, most notable are Barack Ombama’s campaign page (barackobama.com), Grey Goose (www.greygoose.com), and The Boston Globe (www.bostonglobe.com) are using. If you have the ability you can open one of these pages on multiple devices to see how well the sizing concept works.
Why use it?
From a user standpoint, having a site that you access like the Boston Globe that uses this type of design is very familiar. The pages look very similar because you are just getting a slimmed down version each time you jump down in size. That familiarity is comforting because you know where to look for stuff and can expect the same things to be there when you switch devices. Currently it annoys me to no end that Sports Illustrated has such lesser content and a different view on my smart phone compared to my computer.
From the business standpoint this type of system is very advantageous because now you aren’t dealing with individual pages anymore. You have a single site that feeds all of your devices instead of having to make an individual site for the phone, tablet, and laptop. In the end result that will save tons of time and money when you update or change sites as well as site maintenance costs.
Better for marketing?
You bet this idea is much better for marketing because by cutting back on multiple sites you are actually creating a more defined path to yourself. One single site versus multiple sites will get a higher ranking and more traffic because you are combining numbers from multiple sites.
You should also experience a higher conversion rate because each user will be able to interact with the site however they choose. Because of that dependable user experience it won’t matter what they use when they pop on and cruise around.
Also since you are using only one site now for traffic your analytical numbers should be much more accurate in tracking the number of true users. You can build a better report which then turns into better marketing campaigns. You can even adjust ad platforms for the devices.
But is there a catch?
Yes, this will cost you some upfront cash. For the most part the initial cost is what has prevented the idea from spreading faster for the middle and small sized businesses. The cost to design a site (you need to build it from the ground up rather than just adding code in), test it on multiple devices and then train people in charge of management is not cheap. Of course many businesses are gun shy about spending more on technology and web design if they feel what they have is sufficient.
Creating a new site is a much better idea than converting an existing site a little bit at a time which tends to be confusing and can cause broken links and other headaches. Some sites that have started this process have lost customers along the way who become frustrated with things not working properly.
While there is that upfront cost of designing a responsive web page, from the long term standpoint you are investing in your business and should expect reduced web costs later to offset this investment.
If you are targeting multiple devices that customers use to access your site then this is an idea that needs some serious investigation. Time to pull the analytics report and see what people are using to look at you on the web! Keeping in contact with customers should be a pretty big goal if you get a lot of business from the web. However if most of your business comes from only one aspect then the cost isn’t worth it as your customers won’t benefit. If you aren’t sure, ask your design company to show you the numbers and examples of how responsive web design might benefit you.