If you have ever viewed a traditional website on a smart phone and had to zoom in and out to read the content, then you have been to a website that is not ‘responsive’. If on the other hand, the content displayed perfectly on your smart phone without any need to scroll horizontally or zoom, then the site was responsive.
A responsive or adaptive ‘mobile friendly’ website is fast becoming a necessity into today’s online world.
“More than 2.23 billion people worldwide, or 48.9% of mobile phone users, will go online via mobile at least monthly in 2014. Read more at http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536#1oCmUR4FG5XmZjje.99
So just what is a ‘responsive website’?
Well, quite simply, it is a website that has been designed to resize based on the screen size of the device accessing it. Each device (for example mobile phone, tablet, ipad or desktop monitor) can display only a certain number of pixels. A pixel is a dot on the screen and is the measurement we use for digital files and screen resolutions. For example, jpeg files straight out of a camera are often over 2000 pixels wide.
Traditionally, websites have been designed just for desktop computers and at fixed widths. As monitors have increased in size so have screen resolutions (the number of pixels a monitor can show). So every few years, web designers have adjusted the maximum width they design websites at. A fixed width design is fine if everyone is accessing a website via a desktop computer or laptop, but it can be an exercise in frustration if you’re using a smart phone or small tablet to access the site.
The uptake in smart phones around the world is huge and getting bigger each year. And in some countries, mobile phones will be the dominant way of accessing the internet. Some emerging countries will even skip the desktop stage of internet access and go straight to mobile phone access of the web.
What this all means is that it’s becoming increasingly important to have web content that is accessible to smart phones and tablets.
So just how do we make websites accessible to mobile phones?
Well there are two popular methods. There is the option to create a separate mobile-only website that has limited content. Personally, I dislike this option, as when I have visited these types of sites I have become frustrated at the lack of information on the website. Why should mobile phone users be disadvantaged? They shouldn’t. Ideally, you want to have everyone getting the same website content regardless of which device they use to access your website, hence the development of responsive websites.
I have been watching the responsive website trend grow over time so made the decision to build all of the websites I design responsively. I believe it is that important. I am also firmly of the opinion that businesses with non-responsive websites will begin to lose customers, as it can be such a frustrating experience to visit a non-responsive website on a smart phone. I know I have certainly left a website because of this.
So the solution is to design a website that will display a simplified design for a smart phone with an easier to use navigation system. The display can also be simplified for an iPad or tablet, with different options for tablets and phones when they are used horizontally or vertically (with the website easily flipping between the two layouts). Desktop users still see the normal design, but smart phone users will see a simplified layout with larger text.
If you have any questions about responsive website design, or would like to get your website converted into a responsive design, please don’t hesitate to contact me.