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Responsive Website Design: What is it, and why do you need it?

There was a time when 99% of websites would be opened on a laptop or desktop computer. Then along came the smart phone, and designers and developers had to scramble to create ‘mobile versions’ of the sites they were creating.

Twice the work, twice the cost.

Fast forward to 2016 and there’s just no way either side could keep up with creating websites for all the websites designed in San Diego and the myriad screen sizes out there, which increase with every push forward in technology.

So what’s the solution?

Responsive website design.

What is responsive web design?

A responsive website ‘responds’ to the screen which it is opened on. The layout and content on the site will ‘shift’ into a new position depending on the size and position of the screen it is opened on.

You can test it out now in your browser. Grab the bottom right corner of your browser window as you’re reading this blog and slowly drag towards the top left, reducing the window size. As you go, you’ll notice the pieces of the site moving around to accommodate the new screen size.

You should still be able to read this blog. You see? No matter the screen size, you are able to continue browsing the content and using the websites full range of functionality. That’s responsive web design in action.

So who needs a responsive site?

In short: every body with a website. Translation: you.

At Web Design Solutions, we do too. If you’re running a company or need a personal website for any reason, the site must be responsive.

The sheer variety of screen sizes out there, and the culture of consuming content (not to forget making ecommerce transactions) across multiple devices is growing constantly.

If you focus your efforts on one or two screen sizes only (for example, the old habit of creating a ‘desktop’ and a ‘mobile’ site) the amount of traffic who will bounce away from your website because they can’t properly consume the content will be too high. You will be losing business just because your website is ‘unreadable’ on so many devices.

Let’s look at some stats

Mobile and tablet use is growing. It has been steadily growing for the last ten years and continue to do so and technology and culture moves forward.

In 2016 we know that 91% of internet users own a laptop or desktop device. 80% own a smart phone and 47% own a tablet.

In 2014 we saw the beginning of a ‘tipping point’ in which global mobile usage and ownership overtook laptop and mobile, and Tech Crunch declared that the ‘majority of digital media consumption now takes place in mobile apps’.

The KPCB study from 2015 shows that time spent on a mobile screen is around 51% of total browsing time, while laptop and desktop screens take up about 42%, leaving 7% of the total to ‘other connected devices. Given the trends of the last ten years and the development of more and more connected devices (think Google Glass, smart watches, smart TVs and wristbands... all of which are in development) it’s expected that the diversification will only increase.

How about conversion rates for mobile devices?

By most studies, it’s still clear that add to cart and conversion rate are still lower for tablet and mobile than they are for desktop. The recent data from Monetate showing that in general, conversion rates for laptop and desktop hover between 3% - 5%, tablet enjoys 2% - 3.5%, and mobile lags behind with just a 1%-2% conversion rate on average.

If you are in Ecommerce, what does this mean?

We know that people are using more than half of their time browsing on mobile, so ensure that your site is mobile responsive. For sure you want to catch that traffic.

A lot of mobile Ecommerce traffic comes in from Pinterest, Instagram and other social platforms, then people bounce from mobile to desktop to complete the purchase. We know this thanks to ‘Cross Device Reports’ or multi-device tracking in Google Analytics.

Spend time creating a good browsing experience for your products, so your potential customers can view, compare and ‘save’ your products for a later purchase. And expect mobile conversions for Ecommerce to increase over time, as trust and familiarity increases.

I know my site should be mobile responsive, so what should I do?

The good news is that almost all web design now will be mobile responsive. You simply cannot function online without it.

Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company (like Web Design Solutions) that truly understands optimizing the mobile experience, and you’ll be in good hands.