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Understanding Why You Need a Responsive Website Design

Posted by Paul Patrizi on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 @ 03:49

The intent of this post is to help our readers understand what a responsive website is and more importantly, why you need one.  With the increasing prevalence of web searches on smartphones and tablets, it is critical for websites to render and adapt quickly to different formats. Some sites simply have separate builds for desktop and mobile. While this approach has some customization benefits, most best practice website creators are turning to responsive design.

So what exactly is responsive web design?  It is often misunderstood what responsive web design (RWD) is and why it is important.  RWD involves formatting the design of a website so it can be used on different platforms. Rather than creating several versions of a site and maintaining them separately, RWD allows developers to construct a single, adaptable site that will render quickly to multiple platforms.

A good example of a non-responsive site is one that when pulled up on a mobile phone, the user would have to scroll horizontally to read an article or see all the material on a page which can be quite annoying.


RWD is very important because while millions of people use computers to access the internet, even more use smartphones.  Some experts forecast that by the end of 2017, over 56 percent of web browsing will be generated from smartphones and tablets. If a site does not have RWD, it could drive away visitors due to sheer inconvenience. 


Having a responsive site will boost Google search rankings. Google’s main objective is to serve up not only the most authoritative sites based on content, but also to ensure an excellent user experience.  Non-responsive sites offer a poor user experience thus making it highly unlikely to trigger Google for a high ranking. In fact, Google has incorporated a new algorithm into its searches to place mobile-friendly sites at the top of search pages and non- mobile friendly at the bottom. The algorithm will check each page for RWD as well as load times and mobile best practices such as large text and spaced links. Google currently has over 67 percent of the market share, so optimizing your site to bend to Google’s rules can greatly enhance site traffic. 


Search engines like Google want to give active users the most relevant search results possible. Google collects data with each search and carefully analyzes it to create a more-specific search algorithm. Site engagement is calculated using bounce and conversion rates, which is one of the major factors considered in the data analysis.

The bounce rate of a site is the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page. The conversion rate is a measurement of how often users perform a desired action, such as signing up for an email list, clicking on a link, or making a purchase. A low bounce rate and a high conversion rate are indications of an engaging site. This should be your goal.


Highly experienced web design professionals take several components into consideration when developing a website. It’s pretty logical if you put yourself in the user’s shoes and imagine what makes mobile web browsing easiest for you. Ask yourself questions like; What makes for easy viewing? Is the site easy to read?  Is the site easy to navigate? Optimizing every component of a site for responsiveness can help encourage engagement and improve traffic.  Some of these design considerations include:


Formatting a site to adapt to smaller screens is about more than having the page size adjust; the font size needs to adjust as well.


If created correctly, a site’s navigation bars to change for different interfaces. Many desktop websites incorporate hover dropdown menus in the design, but these are difficult to use on touch screens. 


When the size of a web page changes, the images should adapt accordingly.


Fixed-width layouts stay the same size no matter how big the browser is. Fluid layouts scale the page according to the browser, so a viewer can see all information by scrolling up and down.


On mobile devices buttons and links needs to be large enough for a finger to accurately press without accidentally selecting a button next to it. Be sure to create buttons and button text large enough to easily tap and read can help conversion rates.


RWD is critical in the age of smartphones and tablets.  Google search algorithms will reward those sites that are responsive.  These components to RWD that you should take into account when designing a responsive website.  Users look for convenience and usability when visiting sites.  The many adjustable components of your site will increase responsivity, build trust, boost engagement and increase site traffic.  RWD is a must have in today’s mobile ready community.

Topics: optimize web traffic, website design

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