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Everything Your Business Needs To Know About Responsive Web Design (+Checklist)

The term Responsive Web Design has made quite the name for itself over the past few years. With the rise in mobile traffic that is estimated to be over 79% of total internet use in 2018 and the fact that it is accountable or over 50% of total retail revenue, RWD is officially the new black of website development.

Add Google’s strive towards the mobile-first approach and you will see that your users are not the only ones who demand the ability to browse through your resource via a smartphone. Search Engine Crawl Bots want the same but, if a user is irritated with how your website is shown on their screen he or she will just leave, the search bot will prevent you from ranking properly meaning other people won’t even be able to find you organically.

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Wait a minute! If responsive design is such a big deal then why were there only 11.8% of top websites using it in 2016? Sure, that number has somewhat grown by now but surely not to the round 100%. To learn the answer we must know about the alternatives of modern website development.

Alternatives to Responsive Design

There’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Same can be said about mobile-oriented web development. A mobile-friendly website, a mobile website version and a plain old app are among the most popular alternatives to responsive web design. Let’s have a closer look at all three of them.

  • Mobile-friendly websites seem like a fine solution. They are, after all, designed to function on a smaller screen of a mobile device. Real estate is the issue here as the website will be shown on a phone or a tablet in the same way as it is portrayed on the screen of a PC. The buttons, navigation, and menus that work well on a larger device become inoperable and the UX becomes a painful chore.
  • A mobile version of a site, on the other hand, solves the UX issues just fine as it is designed for the smaller screen. Users get redirected to a mobile version of a website if the server sees that they are entering from a mobile device and everybody wins. Or almost everybody. The user, for once, won’t find any issues with such a way of things, but your budget will not like it.
  • The mobile version is a ‘version’ on paper, while in reality, it is a separate website that needs development, maintenance, content updates, and management thus generally putting an X2 on your every investment. That noted, your original website will rank worse in Google thus increasing SEO expenses even further.

An app is a great choice for businesses with the higher budget range. It will provide the much desired native experience to your fans and will allow for you to stand out from the competition. The drawbacks are costs as you will need an app compatible with every screen on the market and you will still need to work on SEO of the original website separately.

When responsive is bad for business

There isn’t a single thing in website development that can be called a silver bullet and, while the options above seem kind of shorthanded as they are filled with flaws. Truth be told, so is the responsive design trend. There isn’t a single thing in website development that can be called a silver bullet! As a smart and savvy business owner, you are obligated to consider all of the options, their strengths and weaknesses, and then chose one that fits best for your product. Hence, we are going to discuss when RWD is good and when it’s bad for business.

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One page websites, for once, may not require the touch of responsiveness but are better off with a separate mobile version. Same can be true to any website that has 50 pages or less and is not using any advanced technologies or entry forms. The thing here is that it’s not that hard to maintain two relatively small websites that don’t change often in terms of content thus investing in a responsive design would be a somewhat unwise investment Don’t get this wrong – RWD will be of a benefit to you even if your website is small, but depending on the amount of budget you have at your disposal you are free to make an educated decision in favor of it or against.

That noted, there are times when people use the same resource differently depending on the platform they are using. If the goals of your audience are directly opposite on a mobile device from what they would be on a desktop – RWD is not for you.

The challenges responsive design brings to the table are also somewhat large. For instance, there are SEO challenges RWD introduces. Yes, you’ve read this right – being mobile-first doesn’t automatically ensure Google loves you. Titles, descriptions and even content are hard to adjust when you have to plan their looks on a plethora of screens from the get-go. And, while the length of them may be reduced to a minimum in favor of looking good on a 4.5’ screen, the keywords are still hard to predict. Factors like voice search step into place butchering all of the keyword research you may have done before on a desktop machine.

Then there’s a share of content that you’ve designed to be “mobile only”. Google will simply ignore it from indexing making your strive towards the perfect UX worth your while, while still allowing a fewer number of people to witness the masterpiece organically.

Is it worth it?

Of course!

SEO aside, development takes longer thus draining resources while prolonging time-to-market delivery and it’s harder to design something good with a plethora of devices in mind. But that’s not why you are in the business, isn’t it? You are here for the ROI and ROI is where RWD stands strongest.

Now that we know that the benefits of the non-responsive approaches and the drawbacks of responsive itself are nothing, if compared to the potential value gained from increased awareness, better UX and a strategy optimized for every device. thus we introduce to you the ultimate checklist any responsive website should pass:

  • Yes or no: Does your website display the most vital content as prominently as possible?
  • Navigation: If not a scrolling mechanic, is it convenient on a handheld device?
  • Yes or no: How convenient are the input fields on devices with a mouse and keyboard and are they the same on mobile phones? Are the buttons big enough for a finger tap?
  • Content: Are your users overwhelmed with the amount of displayed content? If yes, consider making less of it.
  • Yes or no: Are the CTA buttons tap friendly and well positioned for the thumb or are blandly aligned by the center of the page?
  • Navigation: Is it cross-browser compatible?
  • Content: Are the images and visuals mobile-friendly?
  • Content: Is the website optimized for mobile search?

Top benefits of responsive website development:

  • UX: your clients will have the same satisfying experience of interacting with your business on any device.
  • Link building: acquiring one link is hard enough, so why waste resources on attracting links to several website versions?
  • Maintenance: there is one site to rule them all. Use it wisely.
  • Crawl bot love: better indexing means more people will interact with your business in the long run.
  • Analytics: Again, it’s easier to manage and analyze the behavior of your users on one site.

And what is your take on responsive design and how does your business benefit from it? Share below in comments!

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