What is Responsive Web Design?

When getting a website for your business, you can quickly get confused by all of the different terminology used to describe designing a website. Responsive web design is one such concept you may have heard from some web designers.

A website that is built using responsive web design is responsive, or reacts, to the device it is being viewed on. At its core, it is a set of principles deployed by a web designer to make a website look great on any device.

Responsive Web Design vs Mobile-friendly

As a small business, you’ll likely see this term used in the context of making your website friendly for visitors who are using mobile devices. A website that is designed for mobile devices is often also referred to as mobile-first or mobile-friendly, depending on how exactly it was created.

Being mobile-friendly is an important aspect of responsive web design, because mobile devices are becoming more and more popular. And the best way to make sure that happens is to take advantage of responsive web design. This is true even if you are a small business and regardless of how basic or complex of a website you have.

If your website is designed to be mobile-friendly, but not responsive, it likely is focused on a specific screen size and aspect ratio or very small subset of them. This was fine when there were far fewer mobile visitors and very few different devices.

In the early 2010s, there was one screen size for iPhones. Some companies focused on just that size. This worked somewhat well for a few years, but even that is debatable. By the time Apple got to the iPhone 6, there were at least four sizes. And not much has changed in terms of the numbers of sizes required for iPhones, as Apple still has many differently sized devices.

And we haven’t even mentioned other devices that use Android, which now actually have more market share than Apple. In May of 2010, a web designer named Ethan Marcotte wrote about responsive web design, so the idea has been around as long as mobile devices have been able to browse the Internet.

Anyone who’s been forgoing responsive web design has either been making a calculated decision to ignore some users, perhaps to save money, or for some other reason. Or they have just not been up to date on web design best practices. In either event, if you’re at all concerned about mobile visitors, and you should be, you should be using responsive web design to appeal to the widest number of mobile visitors.

Responsive Web Design Beyond Mobile

Being mobile-friendly is a huge reason and usually the driving factor behind using responsive web design. But it’s not the only benefit by any means. Google also says it’s a good idea and it will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Google Says it’s a Good Idea

As far back as 2012, Google suggested using responsive web design to design your mobile-friendly websites. Google also is moving towards mobile-first indexing, so using their preferred methodology makes a lot of sense if you’re trying to maximize the search engine optimization (SEO) for your business.

Google also explains some more benefits of responsive web design in their developers resource pages. Specifically they mention three important things they say a responsive web design will help with:

  • Easier to share URLs
  • Helps Google’s algorithm
  • Less engineering time

Make More Money with a Higher Conversion Rate

Even if you don’t care about what Google has to say on the topic, it will make you more money. The better your site looks on every device, the more likely your visitors will convert into customers. And more conversions lead to more revenue.
By using responsive web design, you are ensuring each customer is getting the best version possible of your site on their device. For example, one case study by Moz found that switching to a responsive web design increased the conversion rate of Offspring, a UK sneaker company, by 15%. That may not seem like a lot, but a 15% higher conversion rate means 15% more revenue.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

In 2017, a survey found that 56% of small businesses didn’t have a mobile-friendly website and 29% don’t even have a website. This is horrible news for your competition that isn’t taking advantage of having a responsive website, but it can be great news for your business.

Since many businesses haven’t gotten aboard yet, you can fly ahead of your competition in terms of digital marketing. If and when you’re competition does catch on, you’ll still have the first mover advantage, and your competitors will likely always remain one step behind.

Responsive Web Design

All small businesses should have a responsive web design, if it all possible. It should be one of the main things you consider when getting a website for your business. You’ll get more mobile visitors, plus it helps in other areas like conversion rate and search engine optimization.

If you’re designing or redesigning your website, it’s a perfect time to implement responsive web design. That’s because it doesn’t really change the cost of your small business website. You just need to find a web design company that fully understands responsive web design. It won’t cost any extra in most cases, and you’ll reap all the rewards mentioned in this post.

Did we miss anything about responsive web design? Or do you have any other tips, tricks or benefits regarding responsive web design. Let us know in the comments, and we’d be happy to discuss further.

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