One of the biggest challenges in designing and developing for the web is the amazing and ever-changing technology. When it all started to gain popularity, having a website was just “cool” and meant you were “on the cutting edge”. Now, if you don’t have a website, your company may as well not exist at all if a potential client goes to look for your website and you aren’t there. It is no longer a status symbol, it is proof that you are a real company.
In the beginning it was a fancy splash page leading into basically an on-line brochure — now we want as few clicks as possible. Then Flash became the trick of the day — now avoided due to the challenges a flash site poses for search engine rankings and SEO (not to mention usability) plus restrictions from government agencies and mobile devices. Then we needed to use cascading style sheets and web 2.0…
The list goes on. And now, it’s all changing again.
In the recent past, most websites have been designed with what is called “adaptive design”. This means the sites are designed at a certain width, height and pixel number (with those standards continually changing as well). According to the Economist — an online authoritative source offering insight on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology — by the year 2014, more people will connect to the Internet via mobile device than a laptop or desktop computer. Taking this into account for business success, our focus should be on whether or not the mobile and tablet user is getting the best viewing experience as well as the desktop or laptop user. One of the questions to ask ourselves is “how much of my target market makes their buying decisions on a mobile device”? The easier it is for your potential customers and clients to gain immediate pertinent information with easy-to-navigate information, the higher your chances of converting visitors to customers. If viewers have to pinch and squeeze and push and pull and squint and cuss (and they will!) just to get to the pertinent information they consider your service or product, I guarantee, they will quickly move on.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a website format that is optimized for a beautiful and friendly user experience across all devices. No more small print, pixilated images or the need to zoom in and read one word at a time. Unlike having to build an additional separate mobile site or app, a site built upon RWD changes its dimensions and content based on the browser window of the device. In RWD, the device speaks with the “media queries” and then optimizes the web page for that specific device. A site that’s not built on RWD will either give you a mobile version, a mobile app or the same website for desktop that is a royal pain to navigate.
The problems with additional mobile sites and apps are,
• We are creatures of habit who like to stick with what we know. When our customers open a mobile site or app, there is a learning curve or download time before they can get the information they need. You have just added a barrier and a negative experience for your “I want it now” viewer.
• Addition of considerable cost to your website development as basically two sites, or an additional app need to be developed, not just one site that reformats itself intuitively.
If you want to make sure that you are converting visitors to your website into clients and customers, you must be responsible for adapting to the ever-changing world of technology. You must make the path for your prospects as quick and easy as possible without expecting them to do the work. We live and market in an “I want it now and faster” world. A website created with Responsive Web Design will give your mobile device viewers the instant gratification and user experience that will assist you in gaining new customers and clients.