Responsive design is “in” right now. However, if you’re not on top of web design trends, you may not even know the term, let alone why it is so prevalent nowadays. If you’re confused about this design approach, you might not know whether your site should implement it.
This article will help by explaining the basics of responsive design and sharing some of the significant benefits of this concept.
Responsive website design can get rid of many problems your website might be facing. It will improve how the site looks and feels on all devices, likely increase the amount of time visitors stay on the website, and improve your search engine ranking.
Keep reading to learn the most significant benefits of responsive design. But first, let’s briefly talk about what this design approach is and how it works.
In essence, responsive design is a website design approach that allows a site to automatically adjust its elements and content to match the size of the screen on which it is accessed. This means users will no longer need to pinch-zoom, side-scroll, and do all the other extra work to consume your content on their mobile devices.
Sites that have not been optimized for mobile are often challenging to navigate, as we’re sure you know.
Chances are you’ve run into such a website in the past while on mobile and were probably left frustrated. This is precisely the thing you want to avoid because frustrated prospects don’t typically make good customers.
With responsive web design, you set your site up to adjust to different screen sizes. Generally, the content on your responsive website stays the same between devices, but there are differences in the layout and sizing of the site elements.
For example, let’s say that on a desktop, your homepage has a paragraph of text on the left and a form on the right or vice versa. Due to the width of a computer monitor compared to a phone screen, this responsive page displays the paragraph of text above or below the form when it loads on a phone. And, as in the picture above, a mobile will only display the middle section of a desktop's full width image.
Any website needs to be accessible from as many types of devices as possible in this day and age. From desktop and laptop computers, through mobile phones and tablets, to smart TVs and fridges, you simply never know what device someone will use to visit your site.
Just above 50% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, which suggests that appealing to both mobile and desktop viewers is a wise approach.
On top of this, Google announced way back in early 2015 that it would consider mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. This means that desktop-focused websites are not ranked as highly as their mobile-friendly counterparts, because they do not deliver a good experience to mobile users.
Let’s take a closer look at the six major benefits of responsive design.
Most SMBs don’t have the time to refresh and update the way their site looks regularly. Thankfully, responsive design allows for quick and straightforward updates, so you don’t have to hire best web design companies each time you need to make a simple tweak.
Because responsive website design allows you to have just one website instead of separate desktop and mobile sites, other marketing elements are also easier to manage.
Linking the site in social media posts doesn’t give you a headache since you don’t have to decide which version to use. Similarly, you don’t have to worry about whether all of your redirect links and interlinks will work properly. It’s safe to say that responsive design takes away much of the stress of managing a website.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy companies use to improve their Google search page rankings. As you might imagine, the closer your website is to the top of the results on any given search, the better the odds that prospects will find and visit the site.
As we mentioned earlier, Google would like all websites to be mobile-friendly, so it ranks such websites higher in its search results.
Although responsiveness is certainly not the only thing you need to get a better Google ranking, it is a significant contributor. If you combine it well with other SEO strategies, you could get a considerable boost in the rankings and improve your traffic.
User experience is crucial for any website. If you want people to keep coming back to your site, you need to make it easy to use and easy to like.
A user who visits your site on a mobile device is unwilling to side-scroll to see its content or wait forever for the images to load. They’ll simply bounce and look for a more mobile-friendly site instead. Plus, a poor website UX makes your entire business look unprofessional, and nobody wants that.
Responsive design can help convince visitors to keep returning to your website by offering a top-notch user experience on all devices. It allows them to navigate the site more intuitively and view the content quickly and effortlessly, adding up to a much more positive impression.
This point is related to the first one on this list. A responsive website allows you to make quick and easy changes, plus you don’t need to worry about fixing two websites whenever something goes wrong.
The flexibility this awards you is a massive advantage over sites with dedicated mobile and desktop versions. If you want to fix a quick typo, make a simple design tweak, or upload a new piece of content, you only need to do it once, and you’re done.
Similarly, having separate desktop and mobile websites can get a bit pricey. The responsive design approach saves you money by eliminating the need to pay for the hosting and maintenance of a dedicated mobile website.
You’ll only need to invest in a high-quality, responsive website once, and with a quick tweak and update here and there, it can keep bringing new visitors from all devices for years.
A single responsive website makes it easier to track redirections, funnels, conversion paths, and user journeys. This means your metrics are more accurate and your analysis more straightforward.
Google Analytics and other site analysis tools are now capable of handling responsive reporting from multiple devices, so user tracking is condensed into more streamlined reports. This saves time and money while giving you a complete picture of user behavior.
There’s no such thing as perfect, and the same is true for responsive design. This approach, like any other, has its flaws, although, in our mind, the pros far outweigh the cons. That said, here are the most notable disadvantages of responsive design:
1. Design complexity - Unless you have a lot of experience in web design, you’ll find it very difficult to create a custom responsive website from scratch. Thankfully, there are many high-quality web design companies out there for you to hire. You could also take the website builder route and use a CMS like WordPress or Shopify to create a unique site that’s accurate to your branding.
2. Unwanted resizing - Sometimes, you don’t want your content to be resized for different screens, for example, in the case of banner ads and other advertisements. A responsive website could cause a few hiccups in this regard, but nothing a few tweaks can’t solve.
3. Content restraints — You may want to offer entirely different content to your mobile users compared to your desktop visitors. Although this is possible on a responsive website, it could be unnecessarily complex. At that point, you’re probably better off with an adaptive site or a dedicated mobile version.
4. Aesthetics — Not every website looks great on every viewport size. That said, a great team of experienced web design professionals should be able to make your website stand out on any device.
Having listed these disadvantages, it is important to reiterate that every design approach, not just responsive, has its flaws.
Despite a few drawbacks, responsive design seems to be the best design philosophy for the mobile-first era because it makes mobile browsing so much more straightforward and effortless.
Building a responsive website will allow you to stay ahead of the curve. With the increased demand for media-rich mobile apps and internet websites, there are several important factors to consider when building a new website, including conversion rates, search engine visibility, maintenance costs, etc.
Both companies and users will benefit from considering these factors and combining them to form a unified approach to design. Responsive design is, and will continue to be, the key to maintaining market share and staying ahead of your competitors. The consumption of content on mobile devices is showing no signs of stopping, and this is a trend we can expect to continue in the coming years.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Seo Turnover.