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A Look at Responsive Web Design

By Annie George

Posted on 24 Apr 13 by Annie George

The rise of mobile devices – iPads, smartphones – has businesses reevaluating their current web strategy so that look and functionality work well regardless of the platform being used. One such solution being touted and implemented is the recalibration of a company’s primary website with responsive design, in lieu of building a separate mobile site or an app.

Responsive design means that the design and development responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. As the user changes from their laptop to an iPad, the website would automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. This eliminates the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.

Why implement responsive design in web development? Following are some reasons to do so:

1. Accessibility: Technology research company Gartner predicts 1.2 billion smart devices will be sold in 2013, up 50% from 2012. What’s more, a Morgan Stanley study found that 91% of all smartphone users have their phones within an arm’s reach 24/7. Moreover, a Google study, entitled “The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users,” found 9 out of 10 smartphone searches result in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.). What does this all means? Users have gradually become dependent on the devices for everything so you as a company need to be where they are going for information, purchases, etc.
2. Enhances Brand: Visitors expect a company’s website to look good on any device. No matter what device a visitor is working off of, a bad website experience speaks volumes about a company. This is underscored by the Google’s study, which found 72% of consumers expect brands to have a mobile-friendly website.
3. Cost: Building a responsive web design is more costly, but designing and building a separate mobile site is redundant, particularly if a business can invest in creating a website that functions across any platform. What’s more, when developing a native app, you need to develop separate apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows 8 phone, Kindle and other major mobile platforms. In addition, a robust mobile experience can lead to stronger conversion rates in the future.
4. Increased Visibility: Getting the most out of web properties hinges on the ability to be found. The bottom line is that customers cannot purchase what they cannot see. Producing engaging web content can get visitors to share your website among friends and colleagues through social media and email, which ultimately gets more eyes on your company. One of the issues with native apps is that the content is not shareable. Content on apps is exclusive to users who have downloaded the app, so you can’t go viral with the information. Mobile websites meanwhile provide links that fail to translate to desk­top users without appearing fragmented, hindering web content from being seamlessly shared and spread. Responsive design uses one website and one URL that works across all technologies, thus eliminating this cross-technology, User Experience (UX) issue.

Be aware, however, that responsive design is not a magic bullet, and there are issues that need to be addressed, including the time and resources to redo a site from scratch and longer loading times that could affect the user experience and ranking in search. One must look at the entire picture before making the move to a responsive web design and work with a professional that understands the implications of such a move and how to address and fix some of the issues that will arise.

Sources:, Moovweb