Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Responsive web design – What exactly is a responsive website?

OK, what's a responsive website and why do you need it?

Here's the definition of responsive web design: how a website or webpage changes to an optimal viewing size or layout for the user to use, based on the device trying to use that site. 

Besides the desktop computer, the mobile phone and tablet computers are the two platforms that demand responsive web design. A responsive website is one redesigned to make the users experience easier and better when navigating using a mobile phone or tablet/iPad. 

Why do you need a responsive website?

According to a report by, mobile phones now account for almost a fifth of global web usage (which is more than a 6% increase since 2012). And amazingly this figure excludes internet access from tablets such as iPads.

So there's a sizable chunk of internet users that access the internet using a mobile phone... meaning that if you don't have a responsive website and your competitors do, you've almost certainly lost a potential sale.

Example – Starbucks

The Starbucks’ website is one of the most successful responsive web designs. It’s clear, fluent and of course responsive over every platform.

It should be pointed out that these are not applications built specifically for the devices, these are the websites accessed via a web browser on the device.

Pro's of responsive design

Almost every business wants a mobile version of their website. And why wouldn’t they? It allows for the audience of all of those devices to stumble across their website, their website looks great everywhere, their users will report a better experience and will be likely to visit the website again.

It essentially seems to be worth the money to produce, and is a lot easier to manage and maintain than an application. There aren’t really any downsides to responsive design. Recommended by Google itself, companies who don’t have responsive websites would to be lagging behind the competition, they don’t join up.

But there has to be some cons, to responsive design, right?


Con's of responsive design

It’s bad for the designers, because in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years; Apple isn’t the only smart phone brand on the market.

With competition getting tougher and better, people are exploring new and sometimes better tablets and phones out there. All with different screen sizes, different resolution compatibility etc. 

This means that we have to find a way around designing an individual website for each appliance. And we have.

I asked the team at onebestway to tell me a little more about responsive websites and web design. Here goes:


How is a responsive website achieved?

The Fluid Grid Concept: This is the page element that sizes a page. A responsive website will have a fluid grid which allows the website to be viewed in percentages or other relevant units instead of sizing it to precise and absolute units such as pixels or points.

Media Queries: This is a way to allow content to resize itself, adapting to the conditions of the gadget, for example screen resolution. It has now become the recommended standard.

Are there any alternatives?

There is of course the alternative, building a completely separate mobile or tablet website. The argument really falls to one pro and one con. It’s easier, but it’s expensive. When businesses take this option, they normally have the website built for the most popular phones or tablets on the market.

Why should I have a responsive website?

If you aren’t yet thinking about how responsive web design is good for you, here are a few facts to lean you towards consideration:

  • It is predicted that in 2015 that 1.9 billion people will be Internet users on mobile devices. This is more than the predicted desktop computer usage in 2015, which is predicted to be 1.6 billion.
  • Safari is the leading mobile browser with 55% of market share.
  • Since 2012 mobile traffic grew by 70%
  • 36 million people own tablets.
  • 66% of webpages are said to be slow to load.
  • 48% of websites are not designed for smartphones.
  • 42% of websites are difficult to read on phones.
  • 85% of people seek local information by searching on a smartphone.
  • Only 1 in 10 people see responsive web design a necessarily.
  • 74% of small businesses have yet to optimise their website for mobile.
  • 67% of people use two or more devices for shopping online.
  •  3 out of 5 people say a bad website performance will make them unlikely to return to the site. Out of that, 40% say they would visit a competitors website next.  

You yourself must have visited a website on your phone, praying ever so slightly that the website is optimised for your phone. So it's good to be aware of how other people must feel using your own website from their phone. 

Click here to contact one of our team if you'd like to enquire about a responsive website.


Statistic sources

Wikes, Megan. "Responsive Web Design Infographic" JXT. 19th August 2013.

Lichman, Jake. "Responsive Web Design Infographic" Hub & Spoke. 3rd April 2013.

Sarmiento, Juan. "11 reasons why Responsive Design isn’t that cool!" Website Design Shock. 11th August 2011.

"Responsive Web Design" DSM Design.  16th October 2012.

Pham, Dai. "Navigating the new multi-screen world: Insights show how consumers use different devices together" Google Mobile Ads Blog. 29th August 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment