What is a Responsive Web Site?

A web design that is responsive is coded in such a way that it will automatically change the way it is displayed based on the size of a user’s screen. Responsive designs will optimise a user’s browsing experience by creating a flexible and responsive web page, optimised for the device that is accessing it.

There has been a distinct audience shift towards mobile browsing. Responsive design represents the simplest way to reach users across multiple devices and ensures a seamless user experience. With increasing preference of readers to get their online content across multiple devices (i.e. tablets and smartphones), responsive design is becoming increasingly important.

Increasing your reach to tablet and mobile audiences

Increasing use of the internet and proliferation of web applications on tablets and mobile devices has been the driving force behind this development. Traditionally users would be re-directed to a device specific site (e.g. mobile), but responsive design means one site can be implemented across all devices.

Tablet sales are expected to exceed 320 million this year, 32.8 million users within the UK alone, then add on over 40 million users of smartphones in the UK. It’s not hard to see why these devices are now out producing the desktop PC by a staggering 7:1!

All this means that responsive design has never been so important for those looking to optimise their online content. It comes as no surprise to us that all of Freecom’s sites are already experiencing an increase in mobile traffic, some of which are getting up to a 60% increase, a strong commercial imperative to accommodate the smaller screen size in a unified design is no longer an option, but a must.

Increase sales and conversion rates

Another benefit of responsive design is that the user has an improved site experience as there is no need for redirection or more than one website (one for laptops, desktops and tablets, and another for smartphones). A unified design approach will also create a consistent look and feel. Consistent user experience will have a positive impact on your conversion rates as people are familiar with navigation and site or system use across devices. Responsive design removes some of the barriers that having multiple sites can present, i.e. in functionality, performance and consistent look and feel.

Consolidate your analytics and reporting

A single responsive site means that you no longer have to track user journeys, conversion paths, funnels and redirections between your sites. Site analytics tools like Google Analytics are now optimised to handle multiple devices and responsive reporting. All of your tracking and analytics will continue to function and be condensed into a single report, allowing for easier monitoring and analysis.

Increase your visibility in search engines

Responsive Design means you can manage one website with a single set of hypertext links; therefore, reducing the time spent maintaining your site. This allows you to focus on link outreach with a consolidated Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy. SEO campaigns can be time consuming and costly, but by creating a responsive site, all of your efforts can be focussed on a single site, with unified strategy and tactics across multiple devices.

Content is vital in SEO, good quality content which is regularly released improves your search engine ranking page positioning, therefore a further advantage of responsive design is that fewer resources can be wasted in low-level duplication of content across sites, the content need only be applied to a single site, increasing your chances of a higher search engine ranking.

Additionally Google suggest (which Freecom analytics can confirm) that mobile optimised, responsive sites are featuring prominently in localised search results. This is obviously of huge significance to high street and online retailers, amongst other burgeoning mobile use cases.

Save time and cost on mobile development

A primary benefit of adopting a responsive design is that it takes less time than creating an additional stand-alone mobile site, which has been the traditional approach. Testing across a number of websites also increases your development, support and maintenance overheads. As styles are re-used and optimised by device standardised testing methodologies can also be used.

Save time and cost on site management

Clients will also find it much easier and less time consuming to manage and maintain a single site, with much less content to manage. Additionally, a single administrative interface can easily be optimised, using layout and workflow tools to manage the correct content, or site templates that are being used for different devices. Business logic can be applied such that the overall multi-device experience can be significantly enhanced within a single administration.

Enhance user’s offline browsing experience

Responsive design allows site owners to deliver quality content to audiences across devices, the offline browsing capabilities of HTML5 mean that sites can be easily accessed ‘on the go’. As HTML5 enabled tablets and smart phones proliferate this will become increasingly important. Email newsletters, and content contained in hybrid HTML5 web applications will increasingly be consumed on the move and in the absence of an internet connection.

With 2016 just around the corner, we can justifiably state that having a mobile solution is a standard requirement in 2015, just like it was a general requirement to get a website 10 years ago.

As browsing habits evolve, people want an always on experience, they no longer want to have to wait until they are sat at a desktop PC to find an item they may have seen earlier on in the day, they want to jump straight on their smartphone and get information right then and there.

Tailoring this information for a mobile experience is imperative as a ‘Pinch to Zoom’ solution quite simply, will not be received well and will encourage the user to look for a more pleasing user experience.

Choosing a responsive design for your mobile solution allows you to compress several important considerations in to one, easier to manage, product; development and maintenance costs, visibility in search engines and better conversion rates. It’s these factors, combined with a unified approach to design, that will be beneficial for you and your target audience.

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