Responsive Website Design: One Site Fits All
These days, the average home has more than one LCD TV or HDTV, a laptop, desktop, smartphone, at least one tablet. There are also screens of some sort in vehicles. Everybody is surrounded by screens of all sizes and types in the home, office, and public. It’s not surprising that one of the biggest changes to web design and development in recent years is the increase in responsive design.
Businesses should want to make their website as professional looking and easy to use as possible on as many screen types as they can, from PC monitors to smartphone displays. Responsive web design can be described as optimized viewing experience across devices and platforms.
Web Design Percentages
Depending on the source, this type of design is used by nearly 12% of webmasters or more than 80%. On a recent Google+ poll, 82% of the 684 webmasters who voted claimed that they use a responsive website design strategy.
However, this percentage seems a bit high, especially considering there are actually billions of websites out there.
According to other studies, the percentages are most likely opposite of what the Google poll suggests. In 2013, Pure Oxygen Labs did an analysis with the Fortune 100 and found that a mere 11% of websites worked well on a variety of devices. In November 2014, Akamai released a figure that puts nearly 19% of the top 10,000 top-tier sites as responsive. These figures suggest that a trend is growing. While there aren’t as many of these websites as the Google study claims, the number is still growing, as more and more webmasters are starting to understand their importance.
In Akamai’s study it was also found that the number of websites with separate desktop and mobile URLs is slightly higher (at about 21%) than websites with a fully responsive design. This adds credence to the suggestion that more site owners are at least making an effort to make their sites more suited to more than one platform/device.
What Makes a Website Responsive?
If you want to make your site accessible and user-friendly by everybody, you will need to:
- Design it so that it loads smoothly on all screen sizes, including small smartphone displays. Do this by configuring the viewport meta tag properly so that the size of your website adjusts automatically to fit the screen. The viewport setting provides control over the scaling and width of a webpage on various devices.
- Make it touch-friendly so that tablet and smartphone users can swipe over their screens and interact with your site. Ideally, your site should have big easy to touch icons that are easy to view and tap on.
- Navigation is extremely important. Consider link and button placement. Are you going to use a navigation and scroll bar or drop down menus? You don’t want to make everything so small that the user has trouble touching the right link. On the other hand, if you make the design, everything will look clunky.
- Use tools that will help you test how your site works so that you can view mistakes and make improvements accordingly. Have friends and associates test your site out as well.
A responsive website design will decrease your bounce rate. This means that more visitors will stick around for longer before leaving. The longer a visitor stays, the better the conversion rate. This is extremely important – especially if you are running an ecommerce business.