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April 25, 2017

The Importance of Responsive Design for New Websites

By Special Guest
Sophia Mixon, Content Writer

The usage of mobile phones has exploded in recent years. Most people now have a cell phone that they use for everything from calling to watching movies. These phones are an essential part of everyday life. Since they are so handy, people are using them more often to access the Internet, which has brought about some issues.

The screen size of a mobile phone is so much smaller than that of a computer. This causes issues because it makes it difficult to read text, parts of the screen may be cut off and it is hard to click buttons and links. This brought about the need for new website configurations that would work for mobile phones.

Most websites were then designed in two versions. One would be for access on a computer and the other would be for access by mobile. This worked pretty well, but it also created a lot of issues. First, users had to navigate to the right site in order for it to be fully functional on whatever device they were using. Second, it was a headache for website owners because they had to now maintain two websites. To clear up such issues and make things easier for everyone, responsive design came on the scene.

Responsive Design Details

With responsive design, a website only needs one version, but it is accessible to any user on any device. The website itself responds and adjusts to whatever device is being used. So, if a person pulls up a site on a mobile device, it adjusts so that the site is easy to see and use on the device. If a person pulls it up on a computer, then it adjusts to be useable on the computer.

A website created with responsive design will adjust every aspect to fit whatever device the user is using. So, this means that text will adjust so it is readable. Also, any links, buttons or other areas that would need to be clicked or tapped will adjust to accommodate the user needs. For example, a button would be adjusted so that a mobile user could tap it without tapping anything else. The best part of responsive design is that it requires just one URL. It is one site to maintain and one URL for users to remember.

Google (News - Alert) Role

Besides making it easier for website owners to manage and maintain their websites, responsive design is also important to Google. As the largest search engine, it is imperative that websites are listed on Google and get a good ranking. Google started using mobile friendliness as part of its ranking algorithms. So, website owners had to start responding and creating sites that worked for mobile users. This push from Google helped with the development of responsive design because it was desperately needed. Now that responsive design is available, Google prefers it over the old two-site standard.

Reasons to Use Responsive Design

If you are creating a website, it is essential for your website builder to understand and incorporate responsive design. Not only is Google pushing you to do it, but it also just makes the most sense. You don't want to have to maintain two websites and you certainly don't want to miss out on all the mobile users.

The use of mobile devices as the main source for accessing the Internet is only going to grow. Around 20 percent of Google searches in 2016 were done by mobile. More than half of users were accessing the Internet from mobile devices. You certainly can't afford to alienate half of the people who are likely to visit your site.

It is also important to realize that the job of maintaining and managing your website will be much easier if you use responsive design. It will be more cost-effective, too. It is well worth it to take the time up front to design your website to be mobile-friendly than to deal with trying to make conversions and changes in the future.

Above all, your users will reap the benefits. Customer satisfaction is important, especially if you are running a business website or trying to make money from your website. You have to keep the users happy. If they stumble upon your site only to find they can't easily use it from a mobile device, you are going to lose users.

You are providing them with a consistent service. If they access your site on their mobile and then later visit on their computer, it won't seem like a whole different site. It will be the exact same site and they will be able to navigate it easily without having to learn the layout all over again. Users want that seamless back and forth ability between mobile and computer.

Keeping mobile users in mind when designing your website is essential. It isn't too far-fetched to believe that soon the overwhelming majority of users will be accessing the Web using a mobile device far more often than they use a computer. You have to be ready for this and ahead of the competition. Providing the best possible experience for your users is key, and only responsive design will help you to achieve this.

Edited by Alicia Young

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