Marketers have been obsessing over creating a mobile-friendly version of their website and online identity, so as not to miss out on the incredible and still growing number of smartphone users.
That little device in their pockets has already changed the way people search, browse, and engage with online content, and nothing turns them away faster than a wonky design that doesn’t transfer seamlessly to their smaller screens and tap-to-click interface.
And we can’t forget about the cousin of smartphones, those increasingly capable tablets being used in higher frequency every day.
Heck, Mashable even called 2013 the Year of Responsive Web Design.
So what does it mean to have a responsive website, and how can you make sure you’re taking the right steps?
Here at Driving Traffic, we’ve made it a point to choose designs and themes that are automatically responsive. It’s a growing trend that’s becoming necessary to keep up with all the developments in the smartphone and tablet universe.
There really aren’t any advanced technical processes needed. Instead, it’s a matter of developing adjustable designs that can switch on the fly, and appear just as pretty and useful no matter how people are absorbing the content.
So What’s It Look Like?
A responsive website helps eliminate things like horizontal scrolling and image distortion by enabling flexible elements that can automatically be optimized to look and feel as clean as possible.
For example, working with columns is a typical responsive site strategy because they make it simple to arrange content in a way that’s easily accessible for tablet and smartphone users. That’s the main point here: there should be no or very little effort on the site visitor’s part to see what they want to see.
How’s It Work?
Responsive design uses something called “fluid grids,” which base sizes on proportion rather than pixels. That way, images and text can be automatically adjusted relative to each other, instead of needing specific parameters for each piece.
Another important aspect of responsive design are “media queries,” which can determine the resolution needed for any device being used to view a site. Though loading times can be amplified on a mobile device (because when you need all those service bars, they never seem to be there), it’s still a wise choice to enable a responsive design that keeps things in check.
Where Can I Find It?
Responsive design templates are available under the WordPress umbrella, as well as most other major site platforms. They may cost a little more than the non-responsive equivalent, and perhaps require a bit more attention to detail, but once implemented they can be just as easy to use.
Template Monster has a good collection of designs to choose from, and UXPin helps by providing breakpoints that “allow you to create responsive prototypes and wireframes that will look great on all the different kinds of devices and resolutions.”
We’ve also heard good things about Responsify (and we love the name), which actually lets you come up with the best template that will fit your needs, and customize a grid to go with your content, not the other way around.
It’s up to you to choose a design and template that will work for you. We wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s perfect for your situation, so check things out for yourself and go with something that fits.
The objective here is to build a site once, and watch it work across a billion screens, no matter what their size may be.
Tablets and smartphone adoption rates continue to skyrocket, and it’s never been more important to make sure your site is adapting to this shift.
You can’t please all the people all the time, but with responsive design you at least have the option.