Responsive Web Design: Engage Your Target Market Online
The tremendous power of the internet to reach target markets and break down geographic barriers is a double-edged sword;
A quality site can open up markets previously unavailable, while a poorly constructed one can drive potential consumers to a competitor in seconds.
Given the ease at which consumers can navigate between competing businesses, optimizing a site for usability and populating it with dynamic and engaging content is a must for maintaining consistent traffic and driving reliable revenue.
Recent shifts in the market, specifically the rising rates of smartphone and tablet usage, have created an even greater need for optimizing sites. While mobile usage has largely been dominated by dedicated mobile sites, the ubiquity of mobile browsing coupled with the wide-range of mobile devices has ushered in a new medium for delivering consistent engagement: responsive web design.
The Rise of Mobile
Smartphone ownership has increased steadily:
- With a ten percent increase in ownership among American consumers from 2012 to 2013 according to Neilson.
- Over 60% of American consumers own smartphones and utilize mobile browsers.
- And the fast-growing tablet market has impacted desktop sales significantly since the release of the iPad in the mid-2000s.
Both smartphones and tablet computers stress portability, reliability, and the convenience of touch-based interfaces and simplified operating systems. The user interface of these devices is markedly different from their desktop counter-parts, and this is one of the key reasons that responsive web design has become imperative for any business hoping to offer a truly optimized browsing experience across all devices.
Responsive Web Design, Reliable Usability
As the traditional boundaries of screen size, processing power, and available functionality are blurred between mobile devices and computers, it has become desirable to offer a dedicated mobile version of a website for mobile viewing.
This desire to replicate the usability of a full site within the still limited constraints of a smartphone or tablet has led to the development of responsive web design; a method of designing websites with responsive code that can optimize elements of a site in real-time in order to maximize usability and aesthetic appeal on any given device.
The key variables that responsive web design adapts to in order to maintain a consistent user experience are:
- Screen Size
- Screen Orientation
- Platform (e.g. Smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc.)
When these variables change, websites created using responsive web design are capable of scaling themselves to fill the space provided by using things like fluid grids (which size elements based on percentages instead of values), flexible images that are measured in relative units, and media queries that grant the page the ability to use variable CSS styles dependent on the type of device the page is being accessed from.
Usability is the First Sign of Engagement
At the end of the day the purpose of any business site is to engage a target audience.
Whether that is in an effort to:
- Drive them through a sales funnel
- Gather future marketing leads
- Or simply build positive brand awareness.
Although a site with consistent and quality usability is not guaranteed to be engaging, it is a fact that a site with poor usability is almost assuredly not.
Creating engagement on mobile devices has been a problem since the advent of mobile browsing due to a variety of issues (chief among them usability), and was the impetus for creating dedicated mobile sites.
Responsive web design goes far beyond solving the problems that were addressed by dedicated mobile sites though, as it actively seeks to enrich the user experience based on the device they are using. The ability to identify and adapt to the device being used, scaling elements to meet the exact parameters of a screen, or to adapt when that screen’s orientation is changed, means that there is always maximum audience engagement at all times.
Worth the Investment
It can be tempting to cut corners when it comes to budgeting for a new business website, but when using responsive web design to create a truly engaging site that can seamlessly optimize on mobile devices, it’s not recommended.
The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” is all too true in this regard, and the potential revenue lost from a mobile site that is dysfunctional is a price no business should be forced to pay.
Using a professional website design company can ensure that the end result is functional, responsive, and constructed with a clean code that won’t encounter any hiccups a few days, weeks, or months, after going live.