Responsive web design doesn’t need to be complicated; it simply means making websites that adapt to a user. However, despite the obvious benefits of responsive web design, many websites struggle to maintain a cross-device standard. Whether a user is on a desktop, tablet or mobile, a good UX agency should aim for a seamless website on every device, yet the importance of not prioritising one over the other is lost on many.
With the majority of searches now coming from mobile devices, you need to ensure your web design is sleek on both big and small screens. Here, we use our expert knowledge to explain why responsive web design is important, not just for organising your business, but for keeping customers onsite.
Maximises Mobile Traffic and Lowers Bounce Rates
As mentioned earlier, mobile search is now more popular than any other form of search. Roughly, mobile makes up 57% of all searches online. So, if your site doesn’t run well on mobile, you’re only catering for 43% of the internet – that’s a lot of custom to miss out on, isn’t it? In fact, in the UK alone, an estimated 48.5 million people use their smartphone – that’s serious traffic.
Have you ever gone on a website on your mobile and been met with a page that’s slow, riddled with pop-up ads and fails to run properly? Usually, you don’t put up with it for long, even if it’s from a trusted source. In a crowded marketplace, if your site isn’t responsive, then a customer is simply going to bounce off it to a competitor.
While it’s easy to opt for a separate mobile website, using responsive design is a better way of making sure it all stays consistent, as well as offering better versatility at lower development cost.
HTML5 and CSS3 support are so expected that it should be the norm for most developers. That means you don’t have to put up with a poorly-responsive website. A Littledata survey showed that the average bounce rate for mobile Google users is 50%, so websites literally can’t afford to risk alienating users with unresponsive websites.
Improved Conversion Rates
One of the major benefits of responsive web design is that mobile users can find what they need easier. In a recent Google and IPOS study of 3,000 mobile searchers, it was revealed that 47% were more likely to explore other brands if they couldn’t immediately see the company’s phone number.
Of course, this may not apply to your business unless you’re lead driven, but the principle remains: if your mobile site cuts off or hides your calls-to-action and key information, you’re driving users to competitors and away from conversions.
A UX agency should try to create a consistent standard which will naturally lead to more conversions, which is the major reason why responsive web design is important. As mentioned, mobile users can be impatient, so you want your CTAs, contact information and shopping cart to not be hidden away.
Faster Development With Less Maintenance
By focusing all resources into one site, as opposed to opting for a separate site, responsive websites lead to faster development with less overall maintenance. It usually takes more time to develop two separate desktop and mobile websites, so by following the age-old principle that time is money, businesses could save development costs by zoning in on responsive web design.
Bundled in with faster development times is less maintenance. The same principle applies: one website is easier to maintain than two. A separate mobile site means more testing and support, thus leaving both mobile and desktop sites in a significantly worse state.
As responsive design utilises standardised testing methodologies, your website will always look optimal on the screen. Separate websites may seem easier on the surface, but when you break down how that approach equates to two designs, two content strategies, two UX frameworks and two different types of administration, you’re effectively doubling the workload.
Better SEO, Smoother Analytics
How does responsive web design help SEO? Well, Google ensures the top search results are mobile-friendly; you’ll very rarely find a website that doesn’t run well on mobile at the top of the search rankings. In its own words, responsive web design is Google’s “recommended design pattern”.
Your website could be perfectly optimised, but unless it runs like liquid on mobile devices search engines simply won’t be interested.
Google Analytics, too, has more potential on a responsive website. The service’s reports will be much easier to read and analyse from one website. With separate websites, it gets harder to analyse how a website is performing overall.
Improves Loading Times Across the Board
If your mobile site takes over 3 seconds to load, most people will bounce somewhere else. How many people, you ask? 53% – that’s big.
You’ll find similar figures for desktop websites, yet there’s one catch-all method that can solve loading times: responsive web design. One of the major reasons why responsive web design is important is the fact that it’s the best way to improve the loading times of websites across the board.
Responsive web design is made up of three major components which directly improve site speed:
- Fluid grids
- Flexible text and images
- Media queries
A fluid grid is a grid system that organically scales to a user’s screen. Fixed-width layouts, by contrast, stay the same across devices. By employing a fluid grid system, responsive websites ensure all elements resize in direct relation with one another.
Flexible text and images use CSS to resize themselves based on a user’s device and screen resolution. By using CSS’s max-width property, images are able to load to their original size as long as the user’s view is narrower than the image’s width.
Media queries were introduced once browsers got thinner, narrower and more intricate. By utilising CSS3 media queries, it can allow a website to collect data from visitors to apply CSS styles. The consequence of this is the website being able to adapt to a user’s specific requirements.
Overall, all of the above leads to much faster load times, which Google and users appreciate.
Perhaps the most sensible reason to appreciate the importance of responsive web design is that it will future proof your website. As technology changes and mobiles get more and more intricate, responsive design is going to rise in importance.
How is your website going to adapt to foldable screens, stretchable surfaces and dual displays? You can either tackle those challenges when they arise, or simply circumvent them now by being proactive with responsive design.
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