Regarding “Responsive Design” – And It’s Absolute Necessity Today.
Nov. 15, 2014
Is your web presence “responsive?” And no, I do not mean is it interactive, or that you’ll return a call in under 30 minutes. “Responsive” has a very specific meaning within the web design world, and it is relatively new – and ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you know – though many lay folks are still unaware. What’s worse is that many sub-par web designers and agencies still don’t know what “responsive” design is, or why the lack of a “responsive” approach has lead to near zero meaningful traffic at their web properties.
ALERT: A global, de-facto change in end-user behavior is rendering many websites obsolete at launch.
An Explanation And Quick Primer:
First, realize that many, if not most visitors to your websites will do so via smart phone. I won’t get into the statistics here, but smart phones are now ubiquitous. Your end user will likely view your site via smart phone.
So HERE is the issue, in a nutshell: web pages display differently on smartphones. So your site, which was designed for and looks great on your laptop, may degrade terribly on your iPhone. Scroll bars going this way and that, mis-placed text, menus, weirdly cropped or overlarge images – it can look like somebody threw your site in a bag, shook it, emptied it willy-nilly on the floor, and then gave you a window the size of your cell-phone to see it through. Terrible!
This is where “Responsive” design comes in. “Responsive” is a relatively new term of the art in web and UI design. It means that your site is designed to display perfectly on most devices (the site can tell what device is looking at it, and the site will then respond appropriately). Images scaled, backgrounds preserved, text showing in correct size and placement. Headlines correctly placed, Menus that work – and everything fits the smartphone screen perfectly – like it was meant to. Ahh, what a pleasant user experience!
Sites that are “responsive” stand out from the crowd. But any site that gets mobile traffic NEEDS to be responsive as an imperative – otherwise it looks dated and unprofessional to anyone who uses a smart phone.
If Your Target User Is 20-Something Yrs Old, Your Site Will Be Viewed On Smartphone
Two or three short years ago this wasn’t the case. But smart phones are ubiquitous now, and user adoption of smartphones, apps etc., is accelerating and showing no signs of abatement. All over the world, wireless towers are springing up as wireless tech is more agile, resilient and cheaper to maintain than wired comms. But that’s a different issue. The future is wireless and mobile – that much is clear. And that means your site and content will be consumed by a mobile user on a smart device.
Where it gets complicated is that there are so many variants of smartphone – each with different display characteristics. So “responsive” programming needs to take all of the screen ratios, browser compatibilities, etc into account. This can be quite daunting; consider just the iPhones currently in use: iPhone 4, 4s, 4sRetina, 5, 5s, 6 (several more versions of that). Then the iPads. And the WORLD of Android etc phones.
Responsive can be complicated and expensive – particularly if you are paying for the education of the designer. Unfortunately, most agencies and designers have the attorney complex: they will say “yes, I can do that” and then happily take your money to learn how. So you’ll need to vett any agency/designer. Look at their work: is it responsive? How does it degrade on various platforms? You may be surprised!
Yet another thing to deal with, ’tis true. But keep in mind, it is something that cannot be hidden. Or ignored. It is now a choice that you are expected to make.
Have a responsive site – or appear dated, out-of-touch and unprofessional (only to smart phone users).