Responsive Web Design (RWD), simply put is a method of designing websites so that they look good whatever the device being used to view them. The reason that Responsive Design is increasingly important is due to the explosive growth in the use of mobile devices whether they are mobile phones, tablets or laptops – devices that are often referred to as horizontal screens (as opposed to desktop vertical screens).
The aim of RWD is to offer the best possible browsing experience and is characterised by easy navigation and reduced scrolling.
Why You Should Consider Responsive Design
If you run a business website whether local, national or international your customers and prospective customers are increasingly using their mobile devices to browse the internet. If your website does not appear mobile friendly then this will frustrate them and they will leave.
Indeed, nowadays having a mobile friendly website is a Google ranking factor. That means that when Google looks at your website to determine where it should appear in its listings then one of the factors they take into account is mobile friendliness.
If your website is not mobile friendly then they will not include it in the mobile rankings and in all likelihood over time they will penalise non-mobile websites in their main (desktop) rankings.
You can check if your website is mobile friendly by using Google’s mobile friendly website checker.
How Can I Switch To Responsive Design?
If you’ve checked your website and it isn’t mobile friendly then you have a number of options available to you depending on the Content Management System (CMS) that you use and your budget.
If you are using a CMS like WordPress then you could consider switching to a Responsive WordPress Theme. These are ready made WordPress templates that are built using Responsive Design and are easy to install.
If you decide to go down this route then you should check with a WordPress Developer and ensure that you have a full backup of your website when you start in the event that you need to restore to a previous version.
If you are using a Website Builder Tool then there are usually loads of Responsive Templates to choose from. Again, be sure to make a full backup before you start.
What Are The Advantages Of Responsive Design?
There are loads of advantages to using Responsive Web Design. First and foremost you are future proofing your website. The net is going mobile so the sooner you make your website mobile friendly the better.
You will also experience better SEO which means more traffic to your website and because you are offering your visitors a better browsing experience you will get better conversions (i.e. more sales).
This also affects Local SEO because people are not sitting at home searching for you – they are out and about with their mobile phones or tablets.
Also for Ecommerce websites – if you want to sell more online then a Responsive Website will reduce bounce rates and improve conversions.
In terms of complexity you will reduce this because you will have one website that works for all devices as opposed to having a separate mobile site to maintain too.
You’ll also get more social media shares because the social web is increasingly mobile.
Disadvantages of Responsive Design
Of course there’s no gain without some pain and the main factors you need to consider are the cost and time involved in making the switch to a Responsive Website.
There are other options such as Adaptive Web Design but this will still involve extensive re-design work.
A cheaper alternative which is quick to implement is to use a mobile website builder tool. This allows you to build a basic mobile version of your website with your logo and minimised pages.
Using a mobile website builder is easy. You would add a small snippet of code to your main website and when someone browses your site it will detect which device they are using and present the mobile version if required.
The web is going mobile. Websites that are not mobile friendly will not get as good result as those that are. Google gives preference to mobile friendly websites so it is an important factor.
Responsive Design is one way to create a mobile friendly website that appears optimal whatever device is being used to browse it.
If you need to switch to Responsive Design you could consider buying a ready made template to reduce costs and complexity.
If you are on a low budget then a Mobile Website Builder might be the best option for you.