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Why it’s Worth the Extra Time to Create a Responsive Site

The phrase “responsive design” is a relatively new term that refers to something very simple: it’s a web design technique that allows a website to behave differently according to the screen size of the user’s device. What this means is that every user will have an optimized and easy-to-use experience, whether they’re accessing the site from a desktop computer, a netbook, a smartphone, or a tablet.

One of the biggest concerns with responsive design is the user experience. Taking a website that has been traditionally designed to a work on a 1200 pixel wide screen and modifying it to function at just 380 pixels can be quite a challenge. How do you decide what content stays and what content is removed or placed farther down the page? On mobile devices, every pixel is precious; one of the cornerstones of responsive design is using the screen effectively – that is, providing the same experience as the desktop version of the site, only in a smaller and more compact package.

Many business wonder the why of responsive design, why spend the extra time and money when my website has been working just fine as it is? In the age when the internet was a new novel thing a similar struggle took place with traditional marketers, why should they make the transition to the web when traditional marketing, such as snail-mail sales letters, had been doing just fine and bringing in the cash? History answers the question, the birth of the web allowed for those marketers to double and triple their income be decreasing the cost and doubling the audience. According to the Pew Research Center over 91% of Americans own mobile devices and by 2016 5.1 billion people will be using a smart phone. If your company depends on its website enough that losing the business it brings to you would be a serious blow, getting a responsive website before the end of the year should be your number one goal.

Why Is It Necessary?

2013 was named by many tech-savvy news outlets as the “year of responsive design.” 2013 may have come and gone, but responsive design is here to stay. The sale of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets continues to steadily increase, meaning that more and more web traffic is coming from alternative operating systems and smaller screens, as compared to the desktop PC. Some have gone so far as to declare the personal computer either “dead” or “dying,” while others agree that the two types of devices complement each other in meaningful ways, and will continue to coexist.

Either way, responsive design is becoming increasingly necessary for companies that value customer retention. Whether we’re talking about a news site or an eCommerce site, users are becoming increasingly likely to visit a particular website from a mobile device. If they’re greeted by a site that offers a poor user experience for their device, such as slow load times, an interface that doesn’t fit the screen, or plugin content that doesn’t work on mobile, they are going to grow frustrated and take their business somewhere else.

Mobile Is Here to Stay

Businesses are in a unique position right now. Mobile-centric web design offers a number of challenges, but also opportunities. By embracing mobile operating systems, companies can not only provide each of their customers with the best possible user experience, but also take advantage of a number of other mobile features, such as push notifications and geo-fencing. Mobile users have proven extremely amenable to inviting their favorite companies and brands into their pockets; taking advantage of that opportunity, while safeguarding users’ trust, will be more important in 2014 than ever before.

Have you embraced responsive design for your website? Leave your comments below.

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