Imagine you're building your dream house. A 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2-car garage, with a pretty little white picket fence out front and the defining centerpiece - a huge bay window to watch your kids play in the yard.
Your builder is a reputable contractor with great references, as well as a membership in the local chamber of commerce and home builders association, but he has a problem. You have informed your builder that you want the bay window to get bigger each year so you can take in more and more of the life/home you cherish.
Sounds like a REALLY tough problem for the builder to tackle, right?
This is exactly what website designers have had to deal with since the invention of the internet and continue to deal with on a daily basis and responsive website design is the solution. Since you never really know the "Window" or screen resolution of the people consuming your content, your website must be flexible enough to accommodate their viewing area. And with the mobile explosion this is even more of an issue that you should be thinking about as you redesign your website.
What is a Responsive Website Design?
In 2010 Ethan Marcotte coined the phrase "Responsive Web Design" as an approach to build a single website for multiple devices. By programming your website to recognize the dimensions of the user's device, you can alter the visual presentation of your content in a more consumable way. A simple example of RWD is illustrated below by taking a 3 column page layout (desktop view) to "respond" to a 1 column page layout (mobile view).
If you’re prepping for the project of a website redesign, considering if you’re going to want or need RWD is going to come up. Given the importance of mobile growth and all of the benefits that accompany RWD, at WebLink have been integrating the use of responsive web design for all of our new association websites to ensure their continued success.
Here are the five major reasons responsive websites are here to stay.
1) Exploding Industry Trends
If you review the most recent statistics by Gartner Research on Worldwide device sales, you will see mobile phones have already overtaken those made on desktops or laptops. By 2015 it is predicted tablets will overtake PCs in terms of device usage.
The amount of mobile devices and internet usage has skyrocketed in recent years and is continuing to grow. This shows more people are relying on multiple devices for surfing the web and doing online commerce.
2) Google Recommends and Ranks RWD
Per reports posted on Google's blog, Google authorities have said, "we plan to roll out ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users." Thus, it seems Google will soon be penalizing sites not set up with RWD and reward those who have made the change. In addition, if you have a responsive web design tailored for use by mobile phones, it becomes much easier for Google to index your website, because there is a single URL, as opposed to needing to index multiple URLs that are basically just different designs for various pages on your website. The potential impact of lower search rankings makes a powerful case for responsive design.
3) Responsive Web Designs Are Technically Proficient
When analyzing website traffic (visits, page views and conversions), you will find that the responsive websites typically are stronger performers. Since a responsive website design allows you to improve the placement of important links and information, users are more likely to interact with the information. A user that doesn't have to "pinch and zoom" will have less physical interactions with a website and therefore have a more optimal experience with your content.
In addition, analyzing data is much easier with a responsive website. Links are the same across the site, and just render differently, meaning marketers can easily assess whether or not content is effective or not. In contrast, content on a website without responsive design may have fantastic performance on the desktop experience, but because the site doesn’t render well for mobile, you may see less conversions and a higher bounce rate. This scenario actually distorts the data and performance review when looked at across multiple devices. Thus, a responsive website is devoid of many of the analytics hassles experienced on a traditional site.
4) Benefits to Your Organization
When you opt for responsive website design, you will enjoy many internal benefits too. First of all, a responsive website will improve your branding and content value with the help of the right website orientation. Since both the graphics and text are adjusted to be easily viewable and readable on the mobile experience, these elements are presented to all readers, regardless of their device, in the intended representation.
As most marketers are now aware, Google has become extremely strict regarding the use of duplicated content across websites, and sites with duplicate content are often penalized. With RWD, content only lives in one place, so there is no need to worry about duplicate content when using this option. When you are opting for such responsive website designs, it also becomes easier to reduce the amount of time, resources and money required to manage and maintain multiple site presentations. A responsive website design and implementation is often much less expensive than building a mobile app, which would need to be customized for different devices, and is much less specific.
Finally, a strong benefit to building a responsive website design now is to improve your position in the market. Responsive designs are often viewed as more progressive and technologically advanced. It is yet another way for your organization to make a positive impression on current and prospective members and business stakeholders.
5) Benefits to Members
A final selling point for responsive website design is the improved ability for visitors to access content. When users can access all of the website's features, rather than the restricted mobile friendly pages and tools, members will see that their information pages are benefiting from the traffic.
As previously discussed, more and more people are searching for information while on the go, so providing easy to consume local member directory information regardless of device is a powerful benefit for your members. This improved display can extend to sponsorship and advertising opportunities. A client with a local promotion that must be activated in-person may be more attracted to an advertising opportunity when guaranteed it will render correctly on a mobile phone.
When considering a website redesign, it is important to evaluate the all possible benefits available with responsive website design. By streamlining the website's design and optimization for all devices, you will stay on top of the market, improve website experience for all visitors and provide more value to your organization and its members.
Learn more by attending our webinar, How to Succeed in a Mobile World, July 16 at 2:00 pm EDT.
Or, if you're interested in learning more about the WebLink responsive website design process, please sign-up for a free website analysis.