How many times a day do you access the Internet?
For me, my connection begins at 3 a.m. (my infant daughter’s feeding time). With one eye open, I flip open my iPad and do some online shopping, then log into Facebook. At 6 a.m. (feeding #2!), I’m pinning on Pinterest. From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., I’m connected on my Pita laptop in the office, while checking my email (and, ok, Facebook) on my Droid. At night, I’m browsing Facebook and Twitter on my phone while my 2-year-old watches Yo Gabba Gabba, and then I’m reading on my Kindle before bed.
The Internet seeps seamlessly into our lives, with access points readily available at any moment. And it’s becoming more and more accessible – in part, because of responsive web design.
Responsive web design is an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling – across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
It’s an important concept for any business with a web presence to recognize and understand because, as our audiences continue to access our websites from an increasing array of devices, we need to work tirelessly to ensure the continuity of the brand experience.
I sat with Director of Interactive Development Steve Latronica and Interactive Art Director Nick Paradise to find out more about why responsive design is having such a huge impact on today’s online experience:
Users expect it. Users are coming to expect websites to shift to fit their devices – not the other way around. They’re becoming more and more frustrated with sites that make them work to access the content. (Who isn’t sick of zooming in on miniature websites when browsing with your mobile phone?) Failing to optimize your site for multiple devices can decrease the length of a user visit and increase bounce rate. If you don’t adapt to user preference, you’ll lose visitors – and potential customers.
It’s better for your budget. From desktops to mobile phones to tablets, website developers must currently account for screen sizes and resolutions that may change dramatically between device and even product brand. As the expansion of mobile devices continues, developing individual web solutions for each platform becomes less strategic and cost effective. While there’s no way to plan for every existing or emerging device, responsive design allows you to develop one solution that can adjust to fit a wider variety of platforms.
Search engines love it. Google wants users to have a successful search. When a website is functional and easy to use from all devices, it often results in a lower bounce rate and more time spent on the site. Because responsive websites provide better user experiences, they usually get a better search ranking. Responsive sites also have one URL and one set of HTML that can be accessed from all devices, which Google prefers, while websites that have separate mobile versions have separate URLs and HTML. By catering to what the search engines prefer, you’ll help drive more traffic to your site.
“Good design is good business.” This now-famous proclamation by IBM’s chief executive Thomas J. Watson Jr. back in the 1970s has never been more applicable. A company’s website must be an online representation of its brand and its values, and good design helps put the brand’s overarching philosophy in context for a broader public audience. Consider modern brands that have placed a heavy emphasis on design (hello, Apple! Starbucks!), and you’ll see how strong, thoughtful, unique design shapes customer preference.
So, who’s doing responsive design right? The Boston Globe is a good example. It’s currently one of the largest responsive design websites, and its content and imagery flow effortlessly from device to device. Here at The Pita Group, we’ve also begun to implement responsive design on sites like MassMutual’s RetireSmart Did You Know? website. (Go ahead, test it out. Change the size of your browser window on a desktop and see what happens. Then, log on from a mobile device. Neat right?)
Want to learn more about responsive design and how it’s changing the user experience? Contact us, or share your comment below.