Responsive design should be top of your digital to-do list
In June, sales via smartphones and tablets leapt 356% compared to the same month last year, according to a new report by IMRG Capgemini. The total online spend in the UK for June was £6bn, a 13% increase compared to last year.
What’s more, based on the current rate of change and adoption, Morgan Stanley analysts believe mobile web browsing will outstrip desktop Internet use by 2015.
This explosive demand calls for a suitably dynamic new way of delivering what people expect from website usability, whatever device they’re using – PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
The solution has presented itself in the form of responsive design: one web design that can automatically morph itself to fit any type of device or screen to give optimised usability.
This is the next natural step for web design. The age of the app has changed our expectations – we don’t want to pinch and pan around a site to find what we’re looking for. The “old days” of having a second mobile site specifically designed for mobile browsers are over. Making sure your brand’s shop front looks good on all devices is now not just a nice-to-have, it is essential. Brands have to deliver what the customer is expecting to experience.
So, it’s time for brands to rethink what their customers need from their websites. For agencies, this means clients will soon demand device agnostic sites – because that’s what their customers expect.
As such, responsive design is an evolution that should currently be top of mind for every marketer, agency, developer and designer out there. Good responsive design means customers will not be repelled by a cranky mobile site; instead, they will spend more time on the site and be more likely to read its content. Also, done properly, responsive design saves on development costs by eliminating the need to design separate sites for specific devices. In addition, using a single URL improves site analytics and SEO performance, and sites can easily be resized for new viewing formats.
So what does best practice responsive design look like?
Firstly, responsive design should take into account the three standard device variations: mobile, tablet and desktop (and sometimes a fourth for super-wide screens). A good responsive design will adapt to all of these, reorder content areas so that all the important stuff is at the top, and deliver alternate buttons that are easier to hit with an imprecise finger rather than a mouse.
Like any change, there are obstacles to overcome in order to adapt to responsive design. Developing individual responsive pages will initially take longer and working around older legacy browsers will need to be taken into account, as will non-compatibility with many existing eCommerce and CMS platforms.
However, open source content management systems, such as Drupal, are well-adapted to the demands of responsive design, making it fast and easy to create sites that look great and function on the widest range of devices.
Ultimately, responsive design is a fundamental shift in how we will be building websites for the next decade at least. Not responding to this evolution would mean not future-proofing your web presence – something no business can afford to do.
Richard Jones, technical director at e-commerce specialist i-KOS.
Main image bigstockphoto.com.