25 July 2013

What Is Responsive Web Development?

Today we’re going to examine one of the latest & greatest web trends: responsive web development. Responsive web development is part of the mobile movement and is not going away any time soon. In this quick article you’ll learn what responsive web design is and about some of the advantages of having a responsive website.

An explanation of responsive web development

If you know anyone who works on web development chances are you’ve already come across the term responsive web design; but what does that term really mean?

Responsive web development is a way of building your website so it will change itself according to the size of screen (or type of device) used to view it. This means your website will look differently when you pull it up on your phone compared to when you view it using a laptop, tablet, or any other device. Effectively this allows you to build and maintain one version of your website that will function exactly how you want it to across all devices.

Responsive web design VS mobile optimized web design

Responsive design sounds suspiciously similar to mobile web design: so what’s the difference you ask? It’s simple really. Mobile web design usually refers to building a separate version of your website optimized specifically for mobile devices. This basically means you have two websites. One of them will be used when people go to your website on a desktop computer and the other will be used for phone and/or tablet devices.

Responsive design by contrast takes aspects of mobile websites (such as click to call, click for GPS directions, click to fax, etc) and integrates them on your existing website. This means instead of having to build and maintain multiple websites you can keep everything in one place. You get all of the advantages with a fraction of the hassle.

What are the advantages?

There are a number of advantages to having a well-designed & well implemented responsive website. The main advantages that we recognize are that you get a mobile compatible website, mobile websites make Google happy, you can keep everything consolidated, and your customers can have access to the full scope of your website. We’re going to take a minute to examine each one of these things real quickly.

The Mobile Advantage

The market for smartphone & tablet devices is booming right now. As the number of people who own smartphones and tablets increases so does the demand for mobile-compatible websites. Aside from the massive demand though there are a variety of new features on websites which these devices let you take advantage of. Here’s a list of just a few of the new features mobile & responsive websites usually offer:

 

  • Click to call
  • Click to Fax
  • Click to email
  • Click for GPS / Maps / Directions
  • Save as App (save a page of your website as an App on your mobile device)
  • Touch / finger swipe sliders & galleries

Google Says So

Google has always been at the forefront of the mobile movement. Don’t believe us? Just go ask Google! In a recent blog post on the Google Webmaster Central blog they stated “Smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment of Internet users, and at Google we want them to experience the full richness of the web.” (1). Google has published a variety of articles regarding mobile web development to push business owners and developers alike to optimize their websites for mobile users. In recent updates to the Google search engine they have strongly implied (if not outright stated) that websites which are optimized for mobile devices will be more apt to gain better ranking than those which are not.

One website: infinite devices.

One of the largest advantages to using a responsive website design is that you keep all of the code to your website in one place. Mobile optimized websites are great but if you have one then every time you make a change to your website you actually have to change it on two or more websites. This time consuming task can quickly eat up your budget for web development work. It also means whenever you do updates you have to check it in two or more places to make sure the changes took effect properly. With a responsive website you make the updates once and you check them once: then you’re done.

 Mobile users get your full website

When building a separate mobile website people often don’t have the budget to go through and build a second version of every single page on their website. With a responsive design the content (navigation included) restructures itself automatically. While some work will still be needed to fully optimize your content for mobile devices simply implementing a responsive design could make every page on your website accessible to users on mobile devices.

Summary

So effectively a responsive website is really just one website which works on multiple different devices. It’s one of the latest & greatest technologies that the internet has to offer and if you aren’t already doing something to take advantage of it we highly recommend you get started quickly. There’s a ton of advantages to having a responsive website and so far we haven’t found any down side to it!

If you would like to learn more about how you can take advantage of the mobile movement & responsive designs just contact our web department so we can help you out.

References / Resources

(1)    Google Webmaster Central Blog, Published 6/11/2013, Retrieved 7/23/2013
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2013/06/changes-in-rankings-of-smartphone_11.html

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