There was a brief moment in time when every business was scrambling to ensure their website adapted to multiple screen types, evolving their online storefronts from the standard desktop computer to the smartphones and tablets that had taken consumers by storm. That time has long passed, as today’s marketing directors know the ins and outs of responsive website design, and don’t have to work as hard to stress its importance to key stakeholders within their respective companies.
Consumers expect you to have varying layouts for different screen sizes to target the various mobile devices, all while still supporting the traditional desktop web; they also expect the layout and positioning of your page elements to change fluidly, based on their screen width, resolution, and browser capabilities.
While responsive website design is now the norm, that doesn’t mean every business is doing it as effectively as they could be. Responsive website design has become more complex than just ensuring fluid widths, scalable images, and adjustable layouts are consistent across all platforms. However, doing it well is an investment in your online presence, one that has multiple benefits.
What do I get for my investment?
While in many ways responsive website design is for your customers, there are some benefits for your business as well. Here are things to consider about your approach:
Create a superior user experience.
You’ve visited terrible websites. Did you return to them again? Of course, you didn’t. When images don’t load, or the screen doesn’t adjust from vertical to horizontal, it impacts the user experience and reflects poorly on your company. Responsive website design ensures your customers can find information quickly, with as little scrolling and zooming as possible. The site doesn’t freeze when they click, and all click options work effectively, regardless of screen size.
Make gains on search engines.
Believe it or not, responsive website design can also help increase your search page ranking. Since Google offers preferential treatment to mobile-friendly websites, responsiveness can have a huge impact on your search engine results when combined with your other SEO efforts.
Get more bang for your buck.
Employing responsive website design means you don’t have to maintain two sites: one for desktop, and another for mobile. In other words, responsive website design allows you to kill two birds with one stone— and save serious money in the process. Cost-effectiveness is something that any marketing professional can appreciate.
Update with complete flexibility.
Related to the previous point, having one responsive site instead of two saves more than just money— it also saves precious time. You can typically make small tweaks or fix tiny errors on your own, without the help of a designer, and you only have to do it once. From integrating with social media to updating links, a responsive website is much easier to manage.
What should I consider when it comes to content?
Whether we’re talking web or mobile, there’s one consistent course of action: keep it short and sweet. Online readers are impatient and want to find what they’re looking for as soon as possible. Depending on your business, your content might be more straightforward or technical, but either way, being plainspoken, using simple sentences, and writing with a conversational tone will serve you well. You should always presume visitors are going to scan your content, so strong headlines and digestible nuggets are a great starting point for success.
There are a variety of factors that impact your content:
- Cost: This applies to the “short and sweet” message we offered above; users will not want to spend their data dollars on long, rambling copy, so use short sentences and headers, less punctuation when possible, and brief paragraphs. This also helps your content get shared on social media. In other words, reducing page weight can lead to entirely new traffic on your website.
- Redundancy: From HTML files to code to content, always avoid being repetitive. Large files make for slow-loading pages, and slow-loading pages lead to visitors leaving immediately. This applies to images as well, which are notorious for consuming power. Often a graphic can be just as effective, and far more informative.
- Design: This may seem obvious, but your approach is critical to proper responsiveness. Instead of enhancing for mobile, designing your site to work across a broad range of devices from the get-go will lead to better customer experience, no matter what their viewport is. The most important content should always lead the way.
- Test: Any website design should undergo a quality control process, especially when it comes to functionality across a variety of screen sizes and browsers. In this case, that means testing your responsive website design on a variety of different browsers and viewports to ensure consistency. Ensuring that you’re delivering the same experience to your customers, no matter their viewport preference, will deliver returns for years to come.
What does the future of responsive website design hold?
While web design fads and trends come and go, that’s not the case with responsive website design. It's definitely here to stay and should be accounted for in your project, whether you’re building a business site from scratch or refreshing an existing one.
Even in the B2B market, more and more buyers are using mobile devices for their research activities, and a growing number of marketing emails are opened on mobile devices, which is a trend that is expected to continue as devices become faster and more complex. Considering that emails typically drive readers to a website, it's critical to the performance of your online marketing to ensure your website is compatible with mobile devices.
So if you're considering updating your website in the near future, make sure to consider some of the factors we’ve discussed here today. And, just so you know, it's possible to refactor designs on existing sites to support responsive website design. Though it seems like just yesterday when “responsiveness” was just a new buzzword making the rounds, today it’s critical for online success.
We know website projects can be overwhelming. So we created our Modern Website Design Checklist to serve as the perfect starting point. Download it today.
Diona is a managing partner at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.