The Growing Importance of Responsive Design
Sally Tomkotowicz, Customer Acquisition Marketing Manager at names.co.uk, explains why Businesses can – and must – adapt to the new ways consumers access their websites.
In the days before smartphones and tablets, businesses could have one web design for one static website. After all, consumers only accessed the Internet on computers and laptops. Once Internet-enabled mobiles came on the market however, consumers wanted to change the way they accessed the Internet, and by extension, companies’ websites. Companies had two choices: either create a website for every specific kind of technology that has been invented and keep on doing this every time a new piece of technology is invented, or simply create one website that is designed to optimise itself to whatever device consumers use.
The choice was obvious. The practice of having one site that could optimise itself to every device is called responsive design, and it is growing in importance for two very big reasons. First, accessing the Internet on mobiles and tablets is increasing, and second, even accessing the Internet from a computer has changed.
Mobile access is increasing
Today, over half of all Internet users have used mobiles and tablets to access the Web. These searches are usually targeted and practical. One in five people looking for a particular company’s information on their mobiles will call that business immediately, and 68% will call or visit the business within an hour.
It is crucial that businesses ensure their information can be found easily and that their site looks professional in these cases. This cannot be done by simply reducing the size of the traditional company website, however. Most phones today rely on touch screens controlled by users’ fingers, so the elements of a mobile-accessed website have to be a certain size to be useful. To improve usability, the layout on a mobile is usually one long column, rather than the three or four columns found on traditional websites. Mobiles don’t have the processing power or the fast Internet connections to download a lot of fiddly design elements, so the mobile website should be streamlined.
Responsive design addresses all of these issues and more. It takes into account both the radically different dimensions in screen size and the difference in how users interact with the websites. It then automatically changes size, shape and even what kind of content is shown, based on the device that is used to access the site.
Even traditional access is changing
Of course, most people still access the Internet with a computer from time to time. Still even when they use their PCs, consumers will not necessarily be using the same size screen or browser.
Responsive design helps maintain a consistent layout despite the size of the browser window or the screen, simply by sizing design elements by percentages, rather than by fixed numbers of pixels. This means that if someone shrinks their browser window, they will still see the whole page of content in roughly the same format as they would in a larger window.
Responding to responsive design
Businesses should have websites with responsive design to ensure customers can access their site on any device. So how can businesses create websites that adapt so easily?
The first answer is to build a new website from scratch. Using new coding language HTML5, sophisticated cascading style sheets (CSS3 is the newest version of these) and proportion-based layout grids, developers can design and build entirely new sites that incorporate responsive design.
Alternatively, companies are creating tools that help business owners build their own responsive sites. names.co.uk, for example, have a product called SiteMaker HTML5. This tool helps business owners with little or no web development experience to build professional-looking sites that incorporate responsive design automatically. Platforms like WordPress and Tumblr also have many themes that have responsive design elements.
Millions of people access the Internet using mobiles, tablets or different sized browsers on computers. Each of these devices encourage different kinds of interaction, and responsive design is key to ensuring that no matter how customers access a company website, they can have a great user experience on a beautifully designed site. As responsive design becomes easier to incorporate, its importance to consumers and to businesses will only continue to grow.
Names.co.uk provides professional online services for businesses and individuals including Web Hosting, Domain Name Registration, Email services, Ecommerce solutions and Business Servers. Names.co.uk has over 15 years’ experience in the Internet industry and employs a team of nearly 200 expertly trained individuals across the UK.
Names.co.uk is part of the Dada Group, an international group of companies who specialise in providing professional Internet services. As a group, they currently have over 1.8million domains registered in over 250 extensions, 500,000 websites hosted on our platforms and over 490,000 clients using their products and services.