So, what is Responsive Web Design (RWD)?
RWD is an approach of laying-out and coding a website such that the website provides an optimal viewing experience. Focussing on ease of reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling. This working across a wide range of devices (from desktops to tablets to smartphones).
The direct advantages of implementing a RWD
One website to build and manage: A strong advantage for businesses who update their content often, as it is no longer necessary to ensure content parity in various locations.This advantage also pays dividends in conversion optimization – for example in A/B testing, as there is only one body to conduct tests on. In addition, visitors encounter a cohesive brand experience regardless of whether they’re using a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
Search engine optimization: All links and bookmarks point to one URL. No wonder Google recommends responsive design.
Social Media: With responsive design, the URL’s visitors’ encounters are the same regardless of whether they’re browsing with a laptop, tablet or smartphone. That makes sharing content through social media foolproof, as it’s guaranteed that the recipients will also be able to browse the content in the most optimal view.
Analytics: One complete view of all the traffic.
Future-friendly: Whatever the new trend-setting device might be, responsive design has it covered by shrinking content to fit the resolution of the device.
What else makes RWD so important?
With the arrival of smartphones and tablets, the user experience and approach towards design have totally changed. Before mobile devices became so advanced that they could be used for web-browsing, web designers had only one concern; keeping the same look and feel across different browsers and desktops. Nowadays it is important that websites adapt the way they interact when being viewed on a smartphone or tablet. Things like click-versus-touch, screen-size, Flash technology support, pixel-resolution, optimized markup and many more factors have become very important when a website wants to be “responsive”. That RWD makes your website look good cross-platform is a nice thing but making your site responsive brings more benefits.
Responsive websites are agnostic to devices and their operating systems. This ensures that users get the best and most consistent experience no matter what device they are using to visit your site. Be that an iPhone, iPad, Android OS phone, Android OS tablet, Windows OS or others. The website will adapt so the user experience stays optimal.
There are some solid examples that prove the immense positive impact on boosting (mobile) conversion by implementing RWD. ConversionXL.com collected some numbers from O’Neill Clothing after they implemented RWD. O`Neill monitored conversions, transactions and revenue for three weeks prior to going responsive. Then, after deploying the responsive conditions to the already live site, they monitored the same metrics for another three weeks. The results are staggering:
Conversions increased by 65.71%
Transactions increased by 112.50%
Revenue increased by 101.25%
For Android devices:
Conversions increased by 407.32%
Transactions went up by 333.33%
Revenue increased by a whopping 591.42%
Internet traffic originating from mobile devices is rising exponentially each day. As more and more people get used to browsing the web through their smartphones and tablets, it is foolhardy for any website publisher to ignore responsive web design. The “One Site Fits All Devices” approach soon will be the norm. Thus, rather than compartmentalizing website content into disparate, device-specific experiences, it is smarter to adopt the responsive web design approach. That’s not to say there isn’t a business case for separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the user-goals for your mobile content-offering are limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach. But that kind of design-thinking does not have to be our default. Now more than ever, digital content is meant to be viewed on a spectrum of different experiences. Responsive web design offers the way forward.