In nature, the key to a species thriving, and sometimes even just surviving, is to be responsive to change and adapt to its environment. Well, this may be the first time I have ever made a comparison between web design and nature!
Most Colorado small businesses would agree that in order for your business to survive a website is essential. But to really thrive it must also capture as much online user traffic as possible. Businesses that are adapting to catch the ever growing percentage of tablet and mobile phone ‘surfers’ will be gaining the small competitive edge that they need by having a mobile website. (note: as of this writing, this page is responsive for mobile devices, and I am working on converting this entire site to be responsive — so I apologize if you are on a smartphone).
A responsive website automatically changes to fit the device
The meaning of a “responsive web design” when applied to website design means that the layout and navigation of the website adapts to the size of the screen it is presented on. This response is literally triggered by the site reading the maximum pixel width available on the device – smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer – accessing it. A “responsive web designer”, as an aside, has a dual meaning – we design responsive websites and are responsive to the client!
A typical responsive design will:
- stack the navigation system
- move the sidebars under the main content area
- resize the photos to show 100% of the photo, but fit within the screen width
- retain the readable size of the text
- provide a clickable phone number for auto dialing
- provide a search feature
- have good enough contrast to read in all kinds of light
Currently there are four general screen sizes to which responsive design is aimed: widescreen desktop monitors, smaller laptops, tablets and mobile phones. You need your site to look good on all of them, because you have no way of knowing which your next customer will be finding you with!
Why Should I Care About Mobile Responsive Design?
I’ve seen tweets complaining about sites that are impossible to read on iphones, and I myself have been frustrated to the point of skipping even trying to read sites that come up with that tiny type and a navigation system that is too small for my thumbs to use. It’s just not worth the aggravation when there is a good chance the next search result will have a site that is a mobile friendly website!
You should care because just like a brick and mortar store owner, you want visitors to your web site to have the best experience possible, and not force them to adapt themselves. People have very little patience with online search.
Currently two main ways you can give your audience a good experience utilizing responsive design include:
- Optimizing the layout of the content
When a customer is browsing from a mobile phone, they don’t have much screen real estate. As of this writing, phones will typically zoom out automatically, so the entire web page can be seen onscreen.
This can be good; at least it gives the user access to the entire site by showing the navigation and all the content, right; but it can also be frustrating for the user when trying to find information that is located in tiny text size and mixed in with a hundred other items on the screen.
We, as responsive web designers, move elements around, making some elements bigger, and reducing the number of columns to give your mobile reader a much more pleasant experience.
- Adapt the size of the content that is shown
Let’s say you own a restaurant and a potential diner is browsing for a place to eat on his way home, from a mobile phone. It’s a good chance he is in an inconvenient location for browsing, possibly even browsing while stopped at a red light.
He has to be able to glance through the site quickly and be able to read without finding his reading glasses! He wants to know what your hours are, where you’re located, and to see your menu (because he’s craving Rocky Mountain Oysters).
With a responsive web site, he can do a quick search, see a photo of the dishes – just like on a desktop computer, can read the same concise menu easily without zooming, and he can do a search for your hours without scrolling! Bingo, if you have Rocky Mountain Oysters, you might have new customer for life!
These scenarios happen all the time! You can see the benefits of having differing content presentation for customers in different screen viewing situations.
Benefits of Mobile Responsive Websites
Mobile responsive web design takes care of multiple viewing situations “on the fly”, which is great for the customer!
What is great about this for you, the small business owner? Ahh, this is a beautiful thing for the busy website owner — you don’t need to have multiple versions of your site to maintain. This means you spend less time or money creating unique content! Your site is always in sync. No checking both a regular site and a mobile site to make sure your prices and hours, etc. are the same on both!
You’ll be thankful for this as you are serving all your new clients that found your new site engaging when they accessed via their mobile phones!
Denver Mobile Website Design Company
All of this is probably new information to a lot of you, and intimidating since it requires not only a change in your web design, but perhaps an overall adaption in web strategy and philosophy. And, it may not be right for very complex sites. For that, we can create purely mobile sites.
Thankfully, Jon Camrud can guide you through the new technology and make it painless. Give Jon a call at 303-750-6114 to get on the path to retaining mobile customers.