Responsive web design is when a web page is built to scale, allowing for the optimal viewing experience, no matter what device the site is loaded on.
This is slightly different than adaptive sites. Adaptive websites have a few layouts pre-set and on standby, and it loads whichever one is the most similar to the device you’re using.
Instead, responsive sites are flexible and able to re-arrange themselves, depending on the device.
They also consist of something called “graceful degradation”. Certain elements, particularly those that look nice but load slowly, will only appear on larger screens and devices with faster processing. You’ve probably seen this in action – many mobile sites lose their full nav bar and switch to a hamburger menu. Sites with video backgrounds graceful degrade to a static background, so we don’t blow up our visitor’s data usage.
We’re big proponents of responsivity over adaptivity. Screen sizes and devices are changing so rapidly that creating multiple, pre-set layouts isn’t an effective long-term solution. Who knows how big the next non-exploding Samsung phone is going to be? And whether one of your pre-sets will work?
For us, flexible design is responsible design.
When it breaks down
Have you ever loaded a website on your phone, and had to pinch zoom in order to click a button? It’s uncomfortable and awkward to navigate, and sometime so simple has a big impact on how users see your brand.
Psychologist and researcher Dr. Elizabeth Sillence conducted a study looking at how consumers used health websites, and whether they trusted the information they saw. Surprisingly, the study found that 94% of wary respondents attributed their uneasiness to the website’s design – and they made these judgements in less than two seconds.
When a site isn’t well-designed, even if your business has nothing to do with web design, users and visitors automatically trust it less.
Design matters to your users – whether consciously or not. Improving the look, feel, and ‘flow’ of your site can have huge implications on your brand’s trustworthiness, your user satisfaction, and your bounce rate.
UX first and forever
Adaptive sites have been popular in the last five years, since they’re cheaper to make than fully responsive sites. They work for brands that can’t port over vast amounts of data across platforms – think Reddit – or for brands that are working to build fully responsive sites but need an interim solution.
But you only have a few seconds to make a good impression – and you want it to be the right one.
This is especially important for e-commerce-reliant brands. Thirty percent of mobile users admit to abandoning a transaction if the website isn’t optimized for mobile browsing.
Do I have to?
Here is a list of stats from 2014, borrowed from Huffington Post
- More than 20 percent of Google searches are now being performed on some sort of mobile device.
- In 2012 over half of all local searches were done on a mobile device.
- 25 percent of Internet users only access the internet via a mobile device in the United States.
- 25.85 percent of all emails are opened on mobile phones, with another 10.16 percent being opened on tablets.
- In 2014 mobile Internet usage is expected to overtake desktop usage.
- Out of the 4 billion mobile phones in the world, 1.08 billion are smartphones and 3.05 are SMS enabled.
But even more important? Google claims that is prefers responsive sites over non-responsive. And this impacts your search ranking. Want more people to find your site when they search for your brand, your product, or one of your competencies? Go responsive.
Use it to your advantage
Okay, so you have a responsive site. How do you capitalize?
First, make great content. Studies show that responsive sites do better in search rankings than sites with the same content. You’re already halfway to beating the competition!
Next, increase your social traffic. Most social users access shared links through their mobiles, and so your responsive site is a great landing spot for them. Boost your visits by promoting your content on social media, engaging with those that interact with your brand (reply to everyone!), and start social listening. You never know who’s talking about your brand, but might not be tagging you.
Finally, do your homework. With a good content management system or customer relationship management software (or both!), you can start tracking your analytics. Who’s coming to your site? What are they looking at? Where are they leaving?
Are those users following the “flow” that you want them to – say, from your home page, to newsletter signup, to purchase? Now you have the data you need, you just have to figure out why or why not.
Are you a big believer in responsivity? We’re fanatics. Contact us to tell us all about it!