Responsive web design has become more than just something that's pretty cool to have, it's now an absolute must for all websites. I echo the sentiments in this article that it was incomprehensible to create a website in 2015 that isn't responsive. It's now 2016 - thus, it's even more incomprehensible. Yet, I'm still seeing it happen.
If your website was created before 2015, it may be understandable that you just haven't upgraded to responsive yet. Understandable, but unfortunately, it's less and less forgivable. So, if you haven't yet upgraded to responsive, or even identified the need to do so, here's a look at why it must become a top priority on your web presence to-do list.
What exactly is responsive web design?
Responsive web design (RWD) allows your website to be properly viewed on all devices - phones, tablets, and any other web-enabled gadget - by allowing elements to shift on the page to facilitate proper viewing on smaller screens.
This website is responsive, so looking at it on a phone and then on a laptop will show the way responsive sites work.
You can also resize your browser window on a desktop or laptop to see how the page elements move based on the size of the screen that is displaying it for a better understanding of responsive behaviour.
What device is your website being viewed on? All of them.
Why is responsive web design so important?
Up to 80% of traffic to your website comes from smartphones. That number is only going to keep growing. If your website can't be viewed quickly and easily on all devices you are turning people away.
In addition, since April 2015 Google is using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor in search results. So, if your perfect customer is searching for you on a smartphone or tablet, your site may not even come up as a search result. Ouch. That should be enough of a motivator to make it clear that responsive design isn't just a nice to have, it's an absolute must have for all modern websites.
But the impact has even greater reach than that. Not providing a device friendly website experience is reflecting poorly on you and your business. It raises the question - Do you not know that this is important? Or do you not care? Either way, your web presence is coming across as out of date, and your brand as out of touch. Neither of those match up to the impression you want to be putting out there, do they?.
What about just having a separate mobile website?
Some website creators may offer a mobile version of the main website as a way to address the needs of mobile users. The way I see it, this is a workaround for starting with a system that doesn't offer responsive functionality in the first place. It's a better option that not having any mobile responsiveness, but not the best solution to the problem.
There are those who advocate that your mobile site should be different than your desktop site, because mobile users want different information than on a desktop website. They are on the go and just need a simplified version of the details.
I really don't agree with that argument. How often do you reach for your phone to search something, rather than go to your desktop or laptop? If you're anything like me, the answer is all the time. Our smartphones are everywhere we are. They are just smaller computers. We need the same info and level of accessiblity with them as any other device.
Because we access the web on smartphones and laptops/desktops interchangeably, we should be given the same content and have the same user experience on all devices.
The other big reason for a responsive website, vs. desktop+mobile is simplicity. The majority of my clients are small business owners and independent artists who all are seeking to be improve their web presence, or create a beautiful new one. All of them have the same needs: A website that is as easy to manage as possible.
Let's face it, you barely have time to think about your website as it is, let alone think about 2 different versions of it. A single responsive website that can be viewed on all devices solves this problem in a simple way to give users what they need. If you're website currently is not multi-device friendly, moving to responsive design is the first step in the right direction.
How can you make your website responsive?
The very easiest way is to use a platform that begins with Responsive Design as an option. For me, that's one of the biggest advantages of WordPress, which has been offering responsive functionality for a few years now.
If you're already using WordPress, upgrading to a responsive theme is the easiest option. How long that can take will depend a lot on how your site was constructed within WordPress, but just having your content within the WordPress environment gives you a head start on transitioning to creating a responsive website.
If you have a old-style static HTML website, or some other platform that doesn't offer a responsive option, it really is time to move up to a better platform. I recommend WordPress for many reasons, but making responsive web design easy is a big plus.
Quick Tip: To check how google ranks the mobile friendliness of your website, you can do a quick check with the Google Mobile Friendly Test
The time is now to transition to Responsive Web Design
The types of devices that your website can be viewed upon is ever-changing. Having a responsive website ensures that your content can be seen by all your website visitors, regardless of what device they are using. Not having a responsive website is actively turning people away from your website and your brand. In effect, your website is actually working against you if you're not providing an enjoyable user experience across all devices.