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Responding to Responsive Web Design: When Do You Need It?

Published on January 8, 2014
Tags: Web Development London

In the past year or so, responsive web layouts have been hailed as the ‘future of web design’, and while this could be correct, it is still very much in its infancy. How do you know if a responsive website is something you should be investing in? Here are a few tips to help you.

What Is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design has become popular due to the increase in demand for smartphones and tablets. With more and more people moving away from their laptops and desktop computers, it has become imperative for websites of all shapes and sizes – and business sites in particular – to accommodate the different dimensions of all the various screens out there. It’s a front-end development approach with the aim of providing easy navigation and reading on a range of devices, no matter what type of screen it has, resizing the page elements and changing the menus accordingly.

What Are The Advantages?
The main advantage is that with a responsive layout, you won’t need to develop completely different sites for each type of computer or device; it’s a sort of one-size-fits-all approach to web design & development. This means that when you need to update or change your site, you only need to do it once – a big time and money saver. Responsive designs are also useful in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): for example, you won’t get penalised by Google for having duplicate content (something which can happen when you have several versions of the same site).

What Are The Disadvantages?
Some people see the cost of having a responsive web design developed as a disadvantage, but this isn’t necessarily so. As has been mentioned, once you have the site, any updates you need making only need to be done once, saving not only money, but time as well. There can be issues with advertising: as responsive layouts move around depending on the device used, a placed advert won’t always appear in the same position – something which some advertisers may not want to pay for. Loading times can also be a problem on some mobile devices, but a good responsive design should take this into account – for example, by using fewer images and videos.

How Do I Know If It’s Right For Me?
One way of deciding if you should invest in a responsive web layout now is to look at who visits your website. The Google Analytics Mobile Overview feature will tell you how many of the users who visit your site are on mobile devices. If it’s more than a few percent, it would be a wise move to start looking at responsive design options.

Whatever you think of the above points, it is clear that there is a definite future for responsive web designs. As the industry moves forwards, we’ll see even more of an increase in smartphone and tablet sales, and if you’re not moving forward with it, you could start to lose out.

 

By Chelsey Evans

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