Not many years ago, building a website was a relatively simple process, even for new site owners. Because the vast majority of users viewed websites via a desktop or laptop computer, website owners could be relatively certain that their sites would display and behave correctly for most visitors.
Today, building a website is a much different process. Rapid advances in technology have allowed Internet users to view websites on a variety of devices, including smartphones, widescreen laptops, and tablets. Accommodating these users requires websites to adapt to mobile devices as well as traditional home and office computer systems.
For this reason, responsive web design is critical if you want to reach an optimal number of users.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Simply put, responsive web design involves coding that detects the type of device a particular visitor is using, and configures the site’s layout and content to display correctly on the visitor’s device. A responsive site produces a layout that facilitates efficient navigation on laptops, desktop computers, phones, tablets, and other Internet-capable devices.
Website content also displays differently on each type of device – responsive web design configures the content to fit the width of devices used to access your site, which means that visitors do not have to side-scroll to read the content. Side-scrolling slows down the reading process and frustrates the majority of Internet users.
How Can You Tell If A Site Is Responsive?
A quick way to check if a site is responsive, is to resize width of the browser. If a website automatically adjusts its layout as you make your browser thinner and wider, then the site is responsive.
Another way to test a site for it’s responsive aspects, is to use an online tool. Studio Press’s Responsive Design Tester is a nice tool to check how a site would respond on different devices.
Why is Responsive Web Design Important?
The increasing demand for information via mobile devices has made responsive web design critical for website owners. A potential buyer might access your site using a traditional computer or a mobile device. If your site does not display correctly, or does not offer an easy way to navigate the site, you can bet that the visitor will exit the site and continue browsing search engine results to find the information he needs.
For example, suppose that you are traveling, and you want to find a pizza shop in an unfamiliar city. The first search listing takes you to a traditionally designed site. Chances are, you will have difficulty reading the content, accessing the menu, and ordering your pizza via your smart phone or tablet. Compare this to a site built with responsive elements, which would allow you to quickly browse the menu and order your dinner.
Responsive web design also eliminates the need for creating multiple versions of the same website for different types of devices. Creating several sites can be costly, time-consuming, and difficult to maintain. This takes away from your profits, as well as time available for business tasks such as creating content, fulfilling orders, and responding to customer queries. In the end, responsive design helps you build an efficient, profitable online business.
Finally, responsive web design allows visitors to load your website quickly, regardless of the type of device used. Fast loading is critical for success online – most visitors will not wait more than a few seconds before leaving your site and choosing another search engine listing. This means lost customers and less money in your pocket.
Thanks to Instant Shift for this killer Infographic.
How Do I Build a Responsive Site?
Fortunately, you do not need to know how to write code to build a responsive site that functions correctly on multiple devices and browsers. There are many solutions you can use that will allow your site to become instantly responsive.
One option is a responsive theme framework. Once you have uploaded the theme files, each content page you build will automatically configure based on the user’s browser and display device. Themes are available with unlimited licenses (you can use the same theme to build multiple sites without incurring additional charges), and single-use licenses (a less expensive option if you only need to build one website). For WordPress users StudioPress WordPress themes are a popular choice.
Another option is a plugin. This option might be appropriate if you are using WordPress or a similar content management system to build your site. Plugins are simple to install and need no coding knowledge; however, keep in mind that you may need to update the plugins periodically from your dashboard to make sure that they work properly. WPtouch is a widely used responsive plugin solution.
If your site isn’t responsive yet, consider investing in a plugin, theme, or other solution to make your site responsive. The ability to attract and keep more visitors using a variety of devices can help improve conversions, increase website sales, and help you build your Internet business more quickly.
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