Should You Jump on the Responsive Design Bandwagon?

by Jennifer Goforth Gregory on May 14, 2013
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You’ve heard the buzz about “responsive web design.” But you’re not sure exactly what it is — or why you should pay attention. Here’s a bit of background, so that you can decide whether you ought to jump on the bandwagon.

“In simple terms, a responsive web design uses ‘media queries’ to figure out what resolution of device [content is] being served on. Flexible images and fluid grids then size correctly to fit the screen,” explains Pete Cashmore in the Mashable.com article “Why 2013 Is the Year of Responsive Web Design.”

As consumers increasingly access websites from diverse mobile devices — laptops, smartphones, and regular and mini tablets — it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to optimize web content for various formats and screen sizes. One of the main benefits of responsive web design is that you don’t have to create and maintain a separate mobile version of your company’s website to fit small screens; the design adapts your content accordingly.

Of course, switching to responsive web design requires some time and money. Small-business owners shouldn’t just move to it — or any new technology — just because it’s available. Make sure that you can make a business case for its implementation.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you determine whether your business should adopt responsive web design.

1. Are you redesigning your website or creating a mobile site? If you are making changes to your website or are doing a complete redesign, take the opportunity to incorporate responsive design. This is especially true if your plan includes building a mobile site. Consider this: By adding a separate mobile site, you will have to pay for its design and invest extra time in maintaining two sites. So, instead of creating an outdated solution that causes you additional work, you many want to set up a responsive website that better serves your customers — and saves you time.

2. Are you losing sales or customers with your current website? If you sell products from your website, not using responsive design may be costing you money. This is especially true if you don’t have a mobile version of your site. For example, have you received complaints from customers regarding using your website on mobile devices? Look at your recent sales figures to see whether your online revenue is decreasing. By comparing the cost of the design project with the cost of lost opportunities, you can decide which avenue makes the most business sense.

3. Do you use your website for content marketing? Many businesses provide value-added content on their websites as part of a content marketing strategy. But reading pages of information on a mobile device can prove challenging if the content isn’t optimized to the device, and customers tend to skip articles that require too much effort to peruse. Although content marketing can boost sales and your reputation, it is only effective when your customers are able to easily access your information.

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