With faces hooked to mobile screens, how can a business leverage the power of smart devices through a single website? The answer is a Responsive website.
“Rather than tailoring disconnected designs to each of an ever-increasing number of web devices, we can treat them as facets of the same experience. We can [make us] designs […] more adaptive to the media that renders them”, said Ethan Marcotte, who coined the term Responsive Web Design in 2010.
A responsive website is the future of web development. In fact, according to research, 62% of companies experienced increased sales by switching to responsive design. The benefits of responsive web design are thus extensive.
Let’s begin by understanding what responsive websites are, followed by their uses and benefits.
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What are Responsive Websites?
Responsive websites are websites that can be viewed across multiple devices without compromising the visibility, comprehensibility, and also usability of the content, adapting to the size of the visitor’s viewport.
Responsive web design enables the websites and pages to render (or display) on all devices and screen sizes by automatically adapting to the screen. It is not a separate technology but an approach.
Uber, YouTube, Dropbox, Dribble, GitHub, Shopify, Slack, Wired, New York City Ballet, and Swiss Air,are some of the popular examples of responsive web designs.
In fact, WebUndies, a men’s and women’s loungewear company, switched to a responsive website and saw a 188% increase in revenue. Additionally, mobile page views increased by 200% with double the transactions sourced from smartphones and tablets.
Responsive web designs
Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Responsive web design creates a layout that responds to any device used to view the content. With the help of various settings to apply different style properties based on the size of the screen in use, orientation, resolution, color schemes, and other characteristics of the user’s device, content is made presentable and readable across various screens.
The three defining features of a responsive web design are:
1. Breakpoints :
Breakpoints, also known as media queries, allow developers to conduct a series of tests and apply CSS as required, to style pages appropriately catering to the user’s needs. A test may be to check whether the user’s screen is larger than a specific width, a certain resolution, and so on and so forth.
This feature facilitates a more tailored user experience.
2. Fluid grids:
These are grid systems that are created using CSS, that scale based on the user’s screen. Through automatic rearrangement, columns fit the size of the screen or a browser window and fluid grids further ensure that all elements resize in relation to one another.
This helps designers maintain a uniform style across various devices and saves time and effort by allowing them to update a single version of the website.
3. Flexible web designs:
Perhaps the greatest challenge to responsive web design is resizing images. An easy option is to use CSS’s max-width property, which ensures that images load at their original size unless the viewport is narrower than the image’s width.
With over 8.48B unique devices existing in today’s times, flexible web designs or visuals allow designers to create long-lasting designs capable of adapting to any device, irrespective of its size or shape.
WIRED uses responsive web designs and the crop on their feature images changes across platforms with the help of flexible images. On desktop and laptop computers, images vary between squares and rectangles, allowing users to explore thoroughly, whereas on handheld devices, all feature images are cropped using a 16:9 ratio.
Together, these three types of functionalities helped responsive web designs to evolve and facilitated designers to craft responsive websites.
Uses of Responsive Websites
A common question that comes is why we need to develop responsive websites. The answer is clear and simple.
Therefore, it is imperative for businesses to develop websites that respond to a mobile screen as well, enabling users to operate the main features and functionalities of the website.
Further, since Google looks at the mobile version of your website to determine how it should rank in the search engine results, it is more important than ever that your website renders or both functions well, and looks good on mobile devices. This automatically enhances user experience which in turn results in a higher ranking for the website on SEO.
This is the ‘Mobile-first’ approach Google has shifted to in recent years wherein websites that are optimized for mobile devices are ranked at the top. This is only possible through responsive web designs.
Hence, through responsive websites:
there is a single site for multiple devices,
scale all images, fonts, and other HTML elements efficiently and appropriately, maximizing whatever screen size the user has.
a user can quickly access any content he/she desires, without the need for redirects
Responsive Website Benefits
Responsive websites not only enhance user experience but allow businesses to perform better SEO-wise and hence, rank well on Google. Additionally, they are easy to use and maintain.
In fact, all major browsers now recommend a “Mobile first” strategy, which means developing a website for mobile first and then adapting to larger screens, as opposed to the traditional approach of desktop first and then mobile screen.
Below mentioned are some of the advantages of developing responsive websites:
1. Faster mobile development at lower costs
Developing a single responsive website is always better than developing a stand-alone application of mobile along with a standard desktop site. This also reduces the time-to-market.
Additionally, businesses save in the long run as maintenance costs, special configuration costs, etc., of a website that uses two separate versions, is more than running a responsive website.
2. Enhanced SEO visibility
Google strongly recommends that developers and designers should follow the best practices when it comes to website and application development. These practices involve making the use of responsive web design; using a similar HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries enabling the content to be displayed in the right manner in each case.
Having one responsive website instead of multiple desktop and mobile versions helps with the loading speed as well as avoids the issue of duplicate content, which can negatively impact your search ranking.
Therefore, enhanced visibility in search engines ultimately leads to more website traffic.
4. Enhanced user experience
A user who doesn’t need to redirect to access the website content on a mobile phone would enjoy and value the experience. A good responsive design enables a user to do the same along with improving readability, and overall experience. Additionally, it benefits a business by enhancing interaction and engagement on the website or, in the case of e-commerce, facilitating higher sales.
In general, responsive websites prove to be more impactful for both businesses and users.
5. Lower bounce rates
Responsive websites make a website compatible, comprehensive, and easy to use on a device/screen of a user’s choice. This increases the chances of a user spending a longer period of time exploring different features and functionalities of your site, which would not have been the case if your site was slow and difficult to use.
Thus, responsive websites reduce the bounce rate with faster loading time, easily usable navigation, and clear call-to-actions.
6. Higher conversion rates
Along with lower bounce rates, a website should be able to create a uniform and consistent user experience across all devices to have higher conversion rates.
Having a single secure site that looks reliable and professional on all platforms helps users decide better and not turn to a competitor’s website. Moreover, taking into account that about 40% of the month’s revenue came from smartphone sales, a business just cannot afford to miss what responsive design offers.
A US company called O’Neill Clothing experienced one of the most impressive jumps in conversions and revenue after their transition to mobile-ready. Android transactions went up by 333.33% while iPhone transactions recorded a 112.50% increase. Conversions numbered 65.71% on the iPhone and 407.32% on Android. Total revenue stood at 101.25% for iPhone and 591.42% for Android.
7. Easier analytics monitoring and reporting
With responsive websites, it is easier to track users’ journeys as developers do not have to go through multiple conversion paths, funnels, and redirects.
Google Analytics and similar tools facilitate tracking and analytics of responsive websites by presenting the data into a single, concise report so that you can study the performance of your content across multiple devices.
8. Faster loading time
Responsive web design loads quickly on various devices, especially smartphones, and tablets. Fluid grids and adaptable images reduce the time it takes for a web page to load, which directly impacts the length of time your users spend on your site.
According to research, if a website’s pages take longer than three seconds to load, 53% of mobile users will abandon it.
Smashing Magazine has a responsive website and their website loads in just 2 seconds on devices with 3G internet, keeping the bounce rate low and users happy.
Thus, a better loading speed not only improves the user experience but also positively impacts web positioning.
9. Enhanced online and offline browsing experience
Responsive websites are comfortable for first-time users especially since they do not need to zoom in and out again and again, eventually running out on their patience and visiting another website.
Furthermore, responsive designs use HTML to create websites that come with the offline browsing capabilities of HTML5. This means that sites can be easily accessed ‘on the go’.
Therefore, responsive websites are more of a necessity today for businesses rather than a choice. RWD offers a higher ranking in Google search and resultant website traffic, lower development costs, and more business profits through higher conversion rates.
Looking for an experienced responsive website development company?
Develop your responsive website with Big Oh. We are adept at creating easily maintainable and effective responsive web designs. Our developers and designers come together to give clients the most secure, reliable, and sophisticated responsive website that caters to their business needs.
Q1. How does a responsive website enhance the brand image?
A responsive website allows businesses to enhance user experience through faster load times, visuals adapting to the size and dimensions of their chosen screens and an enhanced offline browsing experience.
All this helps businesses to get higher SEO rankings, reduce bounce rates and hence get more website traffic and conversation rates. This in turn results in enhanced brand image and goodwill.
Q2. Can a responsive website lead to increased conversion rates?
Yes, a responsive website results in higher conversion rates due to higher SEO rankings, faster loading time, and reduced bounce rates.
Q3. How does a responsive website increase accessibility to a wider audience?
A responsive website makes it possible for users to access the same website content on more smaller and portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, thus making it convenient for them to avail services even without a desktop.
Q4. Does a responsive website improve search engine optimization (SEO)?
Yes, a responsive website enhances SEO by aligning with Google’s best practices for web development.