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Since the first web enabled mobile device hit the market back in 1996 (Thanks, Nokia!), mobile (and the emergence of tablet) technology and the way we access the internet has come on leaps and bounds. Today, we want everything and everything in an instant – including access to websites and information. If you can surf the tides of trend then your customers will thank you, and with the latest offering to user experience (amongst other things) being responsive design, we look at the pros, the cons, and overall whether a responsive website is right for your business.

“Is there a need for responsive web design?”

Did you know that in the UK alone consumer spending via mobiles and tablets is worth £8bn a year, with this set to triple (at minimum!) over the next five years to£ 23bn?* [*source:  Verdict]

Take into account that over 90% of people are within reaching distance of their mobile 24/7, and that half of these when looking to buy are more likely to buy from a mobile friendly site – it is no wonder that the webisphere have gone mobile/tablet/responsive crazy.

Did you know that there are more than 232 sizes of screen available on different devices?

Sure, once upon a time ‘mobile’ only versions of sites may have been of use. But now what? Create 232 different layouts to cover all your bases?  What about new emerging technologies? What happens then?

This is where responsive website design comes in. One layout that responds to the device that it is viewed on. One design that adapts and adjusts to the user and their chosen viewing device.

Gone in an instant are the worries and wads of cash you had lined up for the endless possibilities and versions of your website and subsequent multiple SEO strategies (read about the effect of responsive web design on your SEO here). Responsive could be the answer to all your questions. But are there any catches? Is it definitely the right step forward for you and your business?

The Pros

Aside from the obvious time and money go-to’s, what else is ‘in it’ for you?

1. Responsive websites are processed by the user browser (Chrome, Safari, etc) not your server, meaning the browser identifies and determines the kind of layout that will suit it best and re-arrange your information accordingly. 

2. Responsive design is already the ‘industry standard’ dictated by Google with impact on SEO rankings/listings. Websites that are not deemed ‘suitable’ to mobile/tablet and as a result yield higher bounce rates will be penalised.

3. Responsive design will deliver a consistent experience to your user across all platforms they choose to view it on. This will deliver a consistent experience and branding across all platforms, maintaining the best design and usability for each device encouraging customer loyalty due to their consistent customer experience.

4. It doesn’t matter how big or small the device is, your website will maintain its navigation and usability, allowing users to access all your information easily without a pixelated or ‘squashed’ look.

5. As an extension of pro number 3, if your website is mobile optimised, Google will rank you higher than those sites that are not. Google take  mobile sites into consideration when displaying results (particularly when searched via a mobile device).

The words of the Three Musketeers – “All for one and one for all” seems pretty appropriate here. One web layout for all devices….Ever.

The Cons

Responsive is obviously great. Really great. But with everything of course, there are always a few potential tripping points that are worth considering. Here are a few hurdles when it comes to responsive design:

1. Whilst some websites (with WordPress templates etc) being fairly easy to put together, a good responsive website design is anything but straightforward. It takes a long process to optimise a website just for one mobile – let alone all mobile and tablet devices.

2. Responsive website testing is incredibly thorough. Its very nature is to be suitable for all devices, desktops and similar – so testing must encompass all of these to ensure maximum and accurate usability.

3. Designing a responsive website requires a specific skill-set and specific talented individuals. (Fear not, you need look no further to cross this ‘con’ off your list as we are responsive web design specialists!)

4. Initially, there is a cost in setting up your responsive web design, and ensuring that it is testing and developed accurately and thoroughly to ensure the optimal outcome and optimal user experience for your end users.

5. Whilst responsive web design is fantastic, it is not the only thing that will please your customer. Potentially your website may need a redesign in other areas to ensure maximum user experience, that it is SEO ready, and that your content is easy to locate and is correct/in date/informative.

“Is it the right step for my business?”

Perhaps the ‘cons’ are still worth some time considering, however they really don’t rival the positives that would come from investing in responsive design for your business website.

Whether we like it or not, we live in a 24/7 tech world. We want everything now, now, now. Our expectations for websites, loading times, usability and content are high, and by using responsive web design the expectations would be met – in some cases even exceeded.  With that in mind, if given the choice to impress your visitors and convert them into paying customers – will you be making the switch?

The real question shouldn’t be ‘if’, but more a case of ‘when’.

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