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What does a responsive website design mean?

by: Kevin Williams 17/12/2015 Categories: web

As a website designer/developer we often fall into the trap of using business related terminology, that may not be completely understandable to everyone else. We are often guilty of using the term "responsive design" as though everyone should know what it means, and having looked back through a number of our own blog posts over the last number of months and seen that at no point have we properly described what it means, we thought it was about time we filled you in on what its all about.

Web definitions
Responsive web design is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience - easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices. ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_design

So what does this actually mean, here are some pointers.

  • When you are on your smart phone can you easily read the text without having to zoom in?
  • is it obvious where the website navigation is, and is it easy to click on?
  • Are the images on the website the full width of your phone...or at least viewable at a reasonable size.
  • Can you use your finger or thumb to click on a phone number to make the call?
  • Does the website on your phone load quickly or do you have to wait for it to download?
  • Are the forms (if any exist) easy to fill in (using the natural keyboard on your phone) and submit?

If you have answered YES to all of these, then more than likely you have a responsive design based website, although not guaranteed. If you answered NO, then it maybe time you looked at having your website redesigned or converted to cater for all your viewers on mobile devices. However, there needs to be a good business case when investing in a "responsive design" website. Questions you may want to think about:

  • Are the demographics of your audience a good fit
  • Are you maintaining separate design, development, and content teams for your mobile sites and websites?
  • Are you currently maintaining separate code bases for desktop, mobile etc
  • Are search engines attributing the right relevance to your content because it’s not optimised for a single site (i.e. are your rankings suffering because you have multiple sites rather than a single site)?
  • Is your company keeping up with new devices that have changing dimensions?

If you don't know, or are not sure about how to check if you already have a responsive website then get in touch with one of our experts. We will be able to point you in the right direction.