Google has stated that 'responsive' design is the best practice for mobile optimization. And when the King Of Search talks, we listen.
First, what is responsive web design?
According to Wikipedia, it is “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).” In other words, it allows your website to automatically adjust based on the device that is accessing the site.
A website with a responsive design can adjust to fit any screen size, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The website elements simply shrink or expand and rearrange themselves to fit on a device.
Starbucks made sure that their site displays well on each device you might own.
All of this is possible because of flexible layouts. Once hardly feasible for any website, they are now far easier to implement. An image on your website could easily “break” your site when resized in the past, these days images can be automatically adjusted, opening up an important door for responsive web design.
Advantages of Responsive design
2014 is predicted by Morgan Stanley analysts to be the year that mobile overtakes desktop internet usage.
This is mainly due to the fact that developing worlds have increased access to cheap mobile phones and data plans, but also in the western world we continue to see the popularity of mobile devices increasing. This shift from desktop to mobile requires web designers to find a way to adjust websites to respond to all the different screen sizes out there.
Mobile users are increasing dramatically. (Image Credit)
Certain companies already have separate mobile sites. However, this requires (1) spending extra resources and manpower for the separate site and (2) doesn’t solve the problem for all the different devices out there. An additional problem is that if a site has a high rate of content change, it’ll take a lot of hours to make updates to these separate websites. With responsive design, you only need to design one single site – dynamic and fluid by nature – therefore adaptable for each different type of device.
Let’s take a closer look at the different pros.
Pro: You want to go mobile with your site? Google recommends using responsive design! Regardless of what you might think of Google, when they make a recommendation concerning web design, it’s usually a smart thing to listen.
Pro: You don’t need to manage multiple versions of your content for your desktop and mobile site, one set is all you need.
Pro: Since you don’t need to develop and build separate websites, you save time and money. Please bear in mind that this only applies if you start from scratch.
Pro: With a responsive site there’s no need to set up (server-side) redirects to get mobile and desktop users to the right website. Redirects can be difficult and require expertise in server software configuration.
What about my current website you ask? If you already have a website, responsive functionality can be applied to your current web design.
(credit for copy)