Responsive Design: Why it matters for your website

Responisive Web Design
2/27/2014

Responsive design is the new maxim in web design, and for good reason. A website that automatically adjusts and reshapes itself to the size of the device you're using is a valuable asset in an increasingly mobile market. To be effective in web commerce, your website needs to be as smart as your phone, perhaps smarter.

Mobile devices can view a website on its small screens. But if the website isn't responsive, the entire web page simply shrinks so that the page is unreadable on a smart phone unless you zoom into small portions of the view. A responsive site will rearrange elements of the page to maintain readability in a logical order. It can take a page meant to be read in a horizontal view on a desktop and transform it into a smaller vertical display easily read by scrolling.

Is this what you need? The first question to ask is not if your website needs to be responsive, but if you need to be responsive to the mobile market. Some of you may not think so, and you may be right, but let's break it down.

Geographical searches

One of the primary uses of a mobile device is for geographical searches, which is basically: "Where is the nearest place I can find ______." If you're in the mood for a pizza but you're not at home, you take out your smart phone and search for the nearest pizza joint. You click on the link for the closest place, but that pizzeria doesn't use responsive design for its website. You try to read the menu, check for hours, maybe read reviews, but it's all difficult if not unreadable on the small screen. You go to the second nearest instead which has a responsive website to feed your hunger for information and anchovies.

It's safe to say that restaurants in general can profit from having a website done in a responsive design. It's also safe to say that most retail stores can benefit from responsive design, and by most I mean all. People these days search retail outlets on a variety of devices, and mobile smart phones are increasing in popularity for those searches. After all, it is call a shopping TRIP.

A Nielsen study last year showed 61 percent of mobile phone users are using a smart phone. Walker Sands, a public relations and digital agency, in its Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report found that 28 percent of total website traffic in the third quarter of 2013 was done on mobile devices, up 67 percent from the same quarter of the previous year. Statista, a statistics web portal, estimates that 5 billion people will use mobile phones by 2017.

The trend is pretty clear that if you want to reach the people in the marketplace, you have to recognize those people don't stay in one place. Their search for the products you sell will increasingly be from a mobile device with a small screen for which your website needs to respond.

Industrial sites don't have to respond, right?

Sure, no problem there. You don't deal in walk-in traffic, so geographical searches on a mobile device aren't an issue for you. Then again, don't the purchasing agents for your customers often have smart phones? If there's a break-down in a factory, does the person in charge calmly go back to his office to place an order for replacement parts, or does he impatiently take out his smart phone to place the order? Think how much more impatient he'll become if he can't read your web page.

Or maybe a different issue has an executive fuming about an interruption in the supply and wants to look up potential new suppliers. But she's on the road. Can you depend on her to look up your website when she gets back to the plant, particularly if your competitor has a responsive site that makes it easy for the executive to compare her options and be convinced to call before she's finished her lunch and is back on the road?

The market changes. So does the Web

Internet commerce depends on being found in searches, but Search Engine Optimization isn't as simple as it once was. While Google isn't always forthcoming on what its algorithms are searching for, it does publicly recommend the use of responsive web design because of their value in mobile searches. Options such as producing an alternate site made specifically for mobile devices won't rank as well in searches.

How do you make your site responsive?

That depends on your site and your business. Blue Fire Media is now actively working with our customers who want new sites to be responsive or remake current sites to meet the needs of the mobile market. If you think you need to make the change, give us a call, and we'll respond quickly.

Image Credit: Imagine That News

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