Cellphones and tablets have made it easier than ever to access the information we need. It’s as simple as pulling out our phones, bringing up the internet, and typing in our questions… or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to go. But sometimes, the website that comes up takes forever to load. Other times, it loads but isn’t readable: the text is too big, the images overlap, or the content continues off screen. In these instances, our phones are doing what they’re meant to do, but the website isn’t playing its part—it won’t function on our mobile devices because it lacks responsive web design.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Succinctly put, responsive web design allows your webpages to be visible across a variety of devices and screen sizes. The “responsive” part comes from the website’s ability to respond to each device’s specifications. Image size, resolution, and scripting will all adapt to the new device, thus enabling your website to be viewed on cellphones, PCs, tablets, etc.
When your website lacks responsive design, numerous users will be unable to access it. If a person only has a cellphone, and your website only works for laptops, how can they see any of your posts? And even if they have both devices, cells phones allow users to view websites on the go. Websites that lack responsive design lack the ability to reach hundreds—if not thousands—of users daily.
Why is it Important?
In addition to the benefit of reaching more eyes, responsive web design also helps with Google rankings. Since 2018, Google has used mobile-first indexing, meaning that it ranks websites based on how well they perform on mobile devices. Some of the criteria affecting rankings include load speed, link navigation, and overall ease of reading. Responsive web design positively affects all three of these factors.
Websites that follow responsive design load faster on mobile. Fast loading speed is important, since most users leave a website after 10-20 seconds of waiting. If that entire time is spent loading your page, that user won’t see your page’s actual content. Additionally, they’ll be less likely to view other pages on your site—why wait for your content to load when they can use a quicker source?
Like with load speed, faulty link navigation impedes a user’s overall experience. Simply put, if your website isn’t easy to navigate, users won’t want to stay on it. A user will quickly become frustrated if she can’t find the links she needs—she’ll also be annoyed if those links lead to unoptimized pages. And the more times that user comes across a faulty link, the less time she’ll spend on your site.
Ease of Reading
Along with speed and navigability, responsive design also improves the appearance of your site. It affects the size of your text and images, as well as your overall layout. In short, responsive design makes it easier for a user to read and see your content. Take a second to look at the difference between a site on your laptop versus your tablet; the content is essentially the same, but a tablet or cell phone needs to account for scrolling and finger size. You don’t want your user accidentally hitting links they don’t care about, and you don’t want them constantly zooming in or out to make sense of what you’ve written.
Over the last few years, about half of all website traffic has come from mobile devices. For this reason, it’s important that you create your website with responsive design in mind; if your website isn’t optimized for a variety of devices, you’re limiting potential reach. Furthermore, continuing to use an outdated website can cause compliance and accessibility issues. On the other hand, responsive web design provides a better overall experience for a multitude of users across multiple devices.