What is a Responsive Website?
A responsive website is one that automatically responds to the size of the device it’s being viewed on by changing its look and layout according to rules defined by the designers and programmers. So if you visit a responsive website on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer, you will likely see the same basic content, but it will be reformatted. The menu will probably collapse. Some large images will shrink or disappear. Copy blocks may change locations on the page. That sort of thing.
Our site, for example, is a responsive site. If you bring it up on your phone or tablet and also on a laptop/desktop, you'll see how the appearance changes depending on the size of the device.
How is Responsive Different Than a Mobile Site?
Some people will say responsive sites and mobile websites are the same. They’re not. A mobile website is one that was designed specifically for a non-desktop user, typically a smartphone more than a tablet. A mobile website only functions on a mobile device, and it’s essentially an entirely different site from your main website. A responsive site, on the other hand, is one adaptable website that should (in theory) work well on desktops, tablets, and phones.
How Does This Impact My Business?
The why’s and how’s of websites being mobile, responsive, or neither are all about user experience and user friendliness. Can visitors easily navigate your site on their device? Can they find what they need quickly and take action? If not, then you need to consider how to increase your conversion rate, and a prime starting place is to identify ways that your site is failing mobile users.
I’ll put it another way: If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site experience, then your site is likely losing customers and dollars.
Mobile traffic is something that we watch for all our clients, and it’s steadily rising across nearly all industries. It’s becoming common for sites to receive 40-50% of their traffic from mobile devices. So you can see why this isn’t an issue you can simply ignore for your site.
Which Is Best?
Because of the overwhelming number of device types and screen sizes now available, responsive websites are a good and necessary thing. But having a responsive website isn’t simply a box you check to prove your online business is mobile ready. Not all responsive sites are created equal, and we’ve seen plenty that do more harm than good. Any responsive site needs to be examined with a variety of devices to ensure that all users are getting a great experience. Most businesses won’t need an intricate, independent mobile website, but you owe it to your business to at least consult with some web agencies to determine the best course of action.
If you have more questions about your current site or what you need to keep your web presence relevant in these rapidly changing times, we’re glad to chat with you. We don’t design mobile sites ourselves, but we can pass on a few names of agencies that do. And the beginning of a redesign is the best time to start rethinking your overall digital strategy.