Responsive Web Design – Do I need it?

Responsive Web DesignerToday’s technology scene has changed a lot from what it was just a few years ago. Mobile devices have stepped up to become much more widely used for browsing the internet and accessing websites, so many businesses are scrambling to optimise their websites for the latest tablets and smart phones. There are two possible solutions for optimising your site for mobile; responsive web design, or a mobile website.

Mobile Web Design

A mobile website is, in essence, a totally separate website from your main one. It is a site which is specifically designed and tailor-made to work well for small screens, and will look and function well on smartphones or tablets. Mobile websites are static, separate entities – they will sit alongside a desktop-oriented site, and when a user goes to the URL of the site they will be redirected to either the desktop site or the mobile one (depending on what kind of device they’re using).

There are some advantages to a separate mobile site as opposed to a responsive design, for instance if your existing site is not very mobile-friendly with features such as flash elements or lightboxes. In this case it would be more efficient to build a separate mobile site which avoids all of these complications for mobile users. A mobile site will also give you the ability to customise the experience for smart-phone or tablet users, making it more accessible and effective – an example of this would be implementing a location service which allows mobile users to find your business easily.

However, the fact that a mobile website is separate from the desktop site is a drawback. If you write articles regularly, you may find that having a mobile site requires you to actually submit the article twice – once to the desktop site, and once to the mobile site. Since a mobile site is also tailor-made for smartphones or tablets, it may not be 100% compatible and user-friendly on some mobile devices since they differ so much. This is when a responsive web design comes in handy.

Responsive Website Design

A responsive website will automatically detect the device you’re using, and adapt the website layout and appearance to suit. This is a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and will make your site viewable on pretty much any device capable of browsing the web. Not only does this mean more people will be able to absorb your site’s content, but it eliminates the problems associated with having a totally separate site for mobile users. Existing sites can be adapted to incorporate a responsive design, and this ensures a consistent look and feel for your site across multiple browsing platforms. Responsively designed sites will also be more likely to rank higher in search engines, since they are well optimised.

The trade off is that a responsive site can take a bit longer to set up, which can make it a more costly solution. However, the benefits make this cost worthwhile – you’ll end up with a site which fluidly and dynamically adapts to user’s devices, which will also be easier to maintain since it is just one single site rather than two separate ones.

So which solution is right for you?

Ultimately it depends on your needs and the criteria you’d like the site to meet. Looking at the statistics for your website may reveal that a lot of visitors are browsing your site on mobiles and tablets, which would mean that a responsive website would be a good option. However for a business with not-so-many mobile viewers and perhaps a desire to minimise expenses, a mobile site may be the solution.

Talk to us today about responsive web design via email. Our website options now include responsive design so you’re paying no extra.