The phrase “responsive web design” has been around for a few years now.

During the last decade, the amount of web-enabled devices available to consumers has exploded. With the diverse range of smartphones and tablets on the market and new technologies such as smart TVs and smart watches emerging, Internet browsing has never been more accessible.

The transition from traditional desktops to these new technologies is often forgotten. This is where responsive design comes into play.

What is responsive web design?

To put it simply, it ensures your website will work across all web enabled devices.

Let’s think back to 2000, the new millennium. The Internet was building momentum; consumers were switching from dial-up to fixed-rate broadband and households had a standardised desktop, generally consisting of a tower, monitor and the accessories needed to operate it.

There wasn’t much diversity in Internet access, so only one website design was needed. This type of website is what we now call “non-responsive.”

Fast forward 15 years and now we have desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, smart TVs, etc. There are many different screen sizes, even within each of these markets. Creating a separate webpage for each device would not be time or cost efficient. This is where a responsive website comes into play.

Let’s see how responsive and non-responsive websites compare.

View of non-responsive website on a desktop:

View of the same non-responsive website on a mobile phone:

View of responsive website on a desktop:

View of the same responsive website on a mobile phone:

View of the same responsive website on a tablet (iPad):

Responsive websites target the width of the user’s web browser to determine the most suitable way to present the user interface (UI). This eliminates the problems seen above with the non-responsive website and future-proofs your website against new technologies.

Why is responsive web design important?

Every business looks to improve sales figures. Sales keep businesses afloat and drive growth. Depending on what industry you operate in, your website could be your largest sales tool.

  • Nearly 50 percent of the UK’s population has a smartphone.
  • 49 percent of Internet users own a tablet.
  • By 2018 Gartner predicts “nine out of ten mobile phones will be smartphones.”

A responsive website can help you maintain customers, increase your reach and target new segments. To understand the opportunity created by investing in responsive design, consider the following statistics that have been generated over the last year.

  • In 2014 mobile shopping revenue grew 48 percent year-over-year.
  • 61 percent of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience.
  • For Q4 2014, iPads had the largest conversion rates on e-commerce sites.

Mobile Internet browsing is here for the long run and gaining in popularity. As technology continues to improve, the number of devices, platforms and browsers on the market will only grow larger.

Responsive websites also have the following benefits:
  • Improved search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google
  • Quicker loading speeds
  • Increased customer satisfaction and interaction
It sounds good, but does my website really need to change?

If you still aren’t sure whether you should update your website to a responsive design, we suggest you analyze the following things to give you a clearer understanding of the potential benefits.

Test your website on a mobile device.

Try browsing on a smartphone or tablet — both if you can. Navigate around your website how you would on a desktop. Is the text easily readable? Can you click the links to other pages? Take note if images aren’t viewable or are positioned incorrectly. Lastly, try sending information through your contact page to make sure forms submit properly.

Use Google Analytics.

Check to see how many of your users are viewing pages through mobile devices.

Log into your Google Analytics account and click the Reporting tab at the top of the page. Using the tabs on the left-hand side, navigate to the “Audience” section and then select “Mobile” and “Overview.” This will show you how many visitors are using mobile and tablet devices as opposed to desktops, which will help you determine the need for a responsive website.

Concerned about ROI?

Our team of web consultants can guide you through the process, evaluating your current analytics and giving you an honest answer on what returns should be expected with a website update. Check out our mobile & responsive design services for more information on how we can help.