Responsive web design has been one of the key changes in web design for many businesses in 2012 and if you don’t know about it, you could well be missing out.
So what is responsive web design?
You could be forgiven for thinking that ‘responsive web design’ has something to do with websites that respond to customer enquiries. In actual fact, responsive web design is about creating websites that work on a wide range of devices, in particular mobile phones and tablets.
A few years ago, most people would access your website through a desktop PC or a laptop, but the range of web enabled devices is growing fast, and people now have a choice of smart phones, tablets like the iPad, smart TV’s and even games consoles.
The issue that this presents is that they all have different screen sizes and methods of control, so a website that looks and functions well on one type of device, might not work well on others.
Responsive design aims to solve this by creating websites that automatically change the size and position of elements to fit the screen being used, and even in some cases modify the way the site is navigated to make it easier on touch screens.
Is it really necessary?
If you already have a website that you are happy with then it is easy to sit back and think that this isn’t really necessary, but think again. The number of people accessing the web on mobile devices is set to overtake the number of people using desktop computers by early 2013, and ecommerce sales on mobile devices are predicted to overtake desktop computers by 2015, so if your company isn’t presented well on the small screen then you could be left behind very very soon.
Do I have any alternatives to a responsive site?
While it is true that most businesses need to be taking the mobile web very seriously as part of their marketing strategy, responsive web design might not be the right solution for everyone.
Although it is considered by many to be the most effective and cheapest way of creating a new website that works on various different devices, it does require that you create a new website. If you already have a fantastic website that you have invested time and money in, then replacing it with a new responsive site is probably not an attractive solution. So what alternatives do you have?
Adaptive Mobile Design
Adaptive web design is more of a bolt on option that is well suited to existing sites. It simply means that you create a completely separate interface for mobile devices that gets automatically displayed to people using a smartphone. You can even do a design specific to tablets of you want. The best thing about this is that the designs are not connected, so you don’t need to replace your existing desktop site. Even though the layout and styling is separate, if you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can use the same content on each page, but formatted in the mobile specific design.
If you were creating an entirely new website then this approach would be more expensive than a single responsive design, but if you already have a website that you are happy with, then this is a great way of adding a mobile and tablet interface.
Many people ask us if they can have a mobile app instead of a mobile website. The short answer is that a mobile app is not a replacement for a mobile website, because if someone types in your web address or finds you in Google on their smart phone, then they will go to your website, and not an app.
The good thing about apps is that they can offer functionality that isn’t possible on a website and they give you another marketing avenue, since you can be found in the app stores aswell as online. So think of apps as being something that can supplement your mobile website, rather than a substitute for it.
What type of mobile site do you need?
In summary, it is essential that businesses start looking ahead and meeting the needs of mobile users, but there are different ways of doing so. Responsive websites are perfect for anyone looking to create an entirely new website, while businesses that already have a good website might be better with a bolt on mobile design.
Source : talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk