The humble desktop computer is steadily losing ground in the internet usage stakes, thanks to the mega-tsunami of smartphones, tablets and other ‘smart’ devices which has hit the market in recent years.
In today’s online landscape, modern websites need to look beautiful and perform flawlessly across a myriad of devices, from the largest high-resolution monitors, to the tiniest touchscreen displays.
Since designing device-specific versions of sites for each and every gadget out there is not a viable option in the real world, contemporary web designers have adopted a whole new philosophy when it comes to how websites are constructed: This approach is called ‘Responsive Design’.
Put simply, responsive web design is an approach which optimises websites for use across all modern displays for the best user experience; this is achieved through a combination of careful planning, clever design and meticulous attention to detail in how a responsive design is coded up.
Rather than fixing elements to rigidly set locations on a webpage, responsive websites are designed to use flexible grid structures, which are ruled over by percentages, rather than absolute pixel values. This approach allows a site to scale elements up or down and adapt to the screen (and likely input devices) being used.
Modern coding techniques allow responsive websites to select different styling rules, based upon the detected display resolution being used, along with other factors.
By making media queries as a page loads, elements which are not compatible with the device’s browser can be selectively omitted from the site and/or replaced by more basic, compatible elements, making for faster loading times on more restrictive gadgets, without the need to remove features for users on more capable platforms.
35% of website visits in the
world today are made via a
74% of UK-based
smartphone owners access
the internet every day
The average webpage is
viewed for a duration of just
80% of UK smartphone
owners don’t leave home
without their device
Today’s demanding users expect to be able to access their digital world just as efficiently on-the-fly from a smartphone as they would via a heavyweight desktop tower system: Clearly, with such vastly differing form-factors, resolutions, processing capabilities and connection speeds out there, it makes a lot of sense to ensure that your site is responsive.
Designing a version of a website for each and every possible device permutation is both impractical and short-sighted, as new hardware and software gets rolled out: The ability for a website to adapt based upon the screen size and resolution of the device being used is now a vitally important consideration in all web design projects.
Browsing habits are changing: According to most conservative estimates, 1 in 5 website visits are performed via a mobile device; an impressive percentage which is only expected to grow in coming years.
It could boost your search engine rankings: Today’s search-engine algorithms now factor responsive design into their algorithms, particularly when smartphone users perform mobile searches: The end result is that responsive designs will rank higher than unresponsive designs. Also, a responsive website will trump a site which has both mobile and desktop variants across different URLs, since duplicate content (which would water down a site’s strength) won’t be required.
It’ll improve your conversion rate: In a world where the average webpage view duration is just 8 seconds, it is safe to say that first impressions count! By creating a website design which produces a slick, snappy and consistent user experience across all devices, a higher conversion rate becomes a much more realistic prospect.