Today, we live in a multi-device society. We use our smartphones to check the weather in the morning, a desktop computer at work, and a tablet when we do some online shopping. And we expect the shift to go smoothly from one device to the other. If we couldn’t rely on responsive web design that creates a website that reacts to the size of our screens, we would still have to deal with unnecessary zooming, scrolling, and resizing.
Let’s talk about how responsive websites work, and what benefits they hold for website owners as well as users.
Without a doubt, there has been a distinct audience shift towards mobile browsing within the last decade. To keep up with this change, web developers and website designers also needed to change the way they think about web design. It’s not enough for a website to just look pleasing to the eye or provide information, it also has to optimize the user’s experience — no matter which device is used.
When the use of mobile devices started to grow, some companies went the extra mile and created multiple versions of their websites to cater to the user’s needs. Unfortunately, this method not only requires extra time and developing costs; a website owner also has to stay on top of a slew of ever-changing content. Therefore, any web designer nowadays would advise you to create a website that automatically scales its content and elements to match a particular screen size that caters to more users than just those on traditional desktops or laptops.
The solution to this problem has existed for decades but it only started to become mainstream during the mid-2000s. With the rise of the smartphone, more people started using mobile devices on a daily basis and developers began recognizing the benefits of responsive web design. It replaces the outdated approach of designing multiple versions of the same website by creating websites that respond automatically to the screen size it’s being viewed on. The goal is to make the life of any user easier and to avoid any friction or frustration when switching from smartphone to laptop to tablet throughout the day.
How it works
As mentioned earlier, responsive web design arranges the layout in a way that all information (text, pictures, and everything else) is presented in a readable way on any kind of device or screen size. The goal is for content to render differently depending on the screen size. For that to work, three main principles drive and bind all responsive websites: Fluid grid systems, flexible images, and media queries.
When using a fluid grid-based layout, all page elements are sized by proportions rather than pixels. Fluid grids flow naturally within the dimensions of its container while adjusting the maximum available width. For example, if you have columns, you define the width in relation to the other ones instead of defining how wide every single column should be. Images are also resized relatively to stay within a column or design element; it prevents images from being larger than the screen width. Flexible images simply respond to different viewport sizes and display resolutions.
Why it works
According to a report from the GSMA, almost 300 million people were connected to a source of mobile internet in 2018. This fact alone makes it vital for businesses to have websites that appear properly on smaller screens. Responsive design creates an online experience that is optimized for any device to make a website mobile-friendly and increases the amount of time that users spend on the site. But responsive web design doesn’t just benefit visitors and website owners; it also makes the life of web designers and developers much easier.
The following items are a few of the most important benefits of responsive website design:
First and foremost, it is easier and less time consuming to create, manage, and maintain a single site. Instead of updating several websites, you can concentrate on maintaining only one. There are programs available that make this process super easy, like this one offered by 101domain. You can create your own professional and responsive website in minutes. Changes can be done quickly and the administrative interface can easily be optimized. That being said, overall multi-device experience can be significantly enhanced within a single administration which takes much of the stress out of managing a website.
More time and work also means higher maintenance costs, which can get very expensive. By using responsive design, you can eliminate costs like paying for a mobile site or extra developing hours. Instead of wasting resources creating a mobile version of your website, a responsive design can save a lot of expenses. And, by creating a responsive site, your entire budget can be spent on a single site.
Maintaining multiple sites doesn’t just cost time and money. A separate mobile website also requires additional testing and support, and needs to be kept up to date with the desktop version. Spending less time on maintenance helps you concentrate on things like content, management, and marketing.
- Analytics and Reporting
Having a single page simplifies the monitoring process of where your traffic is coming from and how your users interact with your website. Analytics tools are optimized to handle multiple devices. They help you see how content is performing on different devices instead of tracking user journeys and redirections between sites.
- Search engine optimization
Back in 2015, Google decided that mobile-friendly pages are an important detail of search engine optimization. Responsive websites guarantee that your site can be viewed from any device, which became an essential ranking factor in Google’s search engine algorithms. Duplicate content can also negatively impact your search ranking; therefore, operating only one version of your website helps to avoid the issue. Last but not least, strong backlinks and optimized bounce rates resolve into higher search rankings as well.
- Bounce and Conversion Rates
User experience is crucial to a website’s success. Having a single website that works well on all platforms keeps your visitors engaged and less likely to bounce or look elsewhere. If your users aren’t satisfied with the use of the website, your bounce rates will increase while your conversion rates will decrease. Familiar navigation across devices will provide a much better user experience.
Our attention spans get shorter every day, and a website that isn’t optimized for mobile use might frustrate customers to the point that they leave without ever coming back. Responsive website design including flexible image display, can help improve your webpage’s loading speed immensely.
About the Author:
Name: True Tamplin
Biography: True Tamplin is a technology specialist, author, and public speaker. He writes on a broad range of technical topics including search engine optimization, cybersecurity, and technology relating to the internet.