In tech and marketing, buzzwords are thrown out like candy at Halloween. For the average small business owner, the tech language is foreign. If that’s you, you are in the right place.
Responsive design commonly describes a website that works well on mobile devices and desktop (or laptop) computers. Responsive design goes beyond making websites “mobile friendly”. It is a methodology that gives website owners major benefits while ensuring accessibility regardless of the devices their visitors are using. Here are a few benefits of responsive design.
Imagine you own a professional sports franchise. You’re facility is outdated, so you build a new 80,000 seat Colosseum of sports awesomeness. But you only build one road to the facility. You lose your shirt and the franchise goes bankrupt. Why? No one can get to your facility: it is inaccessible.
Websites are similar. You spend time and money creating content. You want to be sure that your content can be accessed by different people using various devices, screen sizes, operating systems and browsers. It’s like making sure there are plenty of entrances, exits and parking for your Colosseum.
This is a primary goal of responsive design. Accessibility goes far beyond screen sizes and operating systems. However, at its core, a responsive website will be viewable on smartphones, desktops, tablets or any type of device, regardless of the size of its screen.
Forced Priorities (UX)
Because of the varying screen sizes, website owners have to be selective about the message or content that is most important to their goals. They also have to be very intentional about the actions they want their users to take. If you own a bed and breakfast, you want users to book a stay. You have to be sure that visitors using a mobile device have a clear way to book a room. The same goes for content publishers and online stores.
This is called User Experience Design, or UX. It’s a broad topic, but when designing a site responsively, UX design is critical to ensure that visitors see your message and are taking the actions you want them to take.
Keeping Things Simple (UI)
Similar to UX design, visual design takes priority when creating a responsive website. Some visual designs will not work on a mobile device. Unless your product or message is highly stylized, too much visual design takes away from your goal. They don’t want to see a pretty design; they want to buy your product or read your content. Responsive design forces designers to keep their visual design simple.
The benefit is that your content or product shines through better. And if what you have to say or sell is appealing to your audience, you will see an increase in conversions or retention.
Higher Mobile Conversions
This one is common sense. Going through the process of responsive design will make your site more accessible, more user friendly and more simple. Whatever your goal is, when your visitors have a good experience, you will achieve higher success rates. According to a report by comScore, more users are using mobile devices rather than desktop computers to consume digital media. If your site is not responsive, you are missing out on opportunities to capture customers.
Lets Visitors Know You Care
Have you ever stopped by a coffee shop hoping to get a nice, warm coffee only to find out they closed five minutes before you pulled up? I have and it’s frustrating. I left that coffee shop, went to Starbucks and got a coffee! I never went back to that cafe after that.
Part of the reason for Starbucks’ success is because they make it a point to be accessible to their customers. Late at night or early in the morning, Starbucks is open and ready to serve. That sends one very clear message to customers: “We care.”
Having a responsive site will strengthen your brand with your visitors. It lets them know that you care and are willing to invest time and money to make sure they can access your site.
Responsive websites are powered by the same HTML and CSS for mobile devices and desktop computers. That means that when updates need to be made to the code, site owners don’t have to update multiple codebases. This means a lower total cost of ownership and fewer headaches. It’s like having one engine for all your cars (but you can use all your cars at the same time and a bunch of other people get to drive them, too – at the same time). You only have to change the oil one time for all your vehicles. Responsive design will make long term maintenance of your site simpler and less expensive.
At the time of writing, responsive design is the number one service I get requests about. Responsive design is a great methodology with benefits that far outweigh any added costs or time to develop. I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave questions and thoughts in the comments or shoot me a message!
PS – Is there a tech term that is tripping you up? Ask me in the comments and I’ll blog about it.