Responsive web design is the practice of building websites which respond to the browser size to show the most suitable layout of elements based on the device a person is using. This practice is important in order to make sure people can still get the information they need, regardless of how they’re using the web.
In the past five years there’s been a huge change in the way people access websites. People no longer need to wait to get in front of a desktop computer in order to look up a local business and chances are that you’re reading this from a smartphone or tablet right now. Even Google have updated their algorithms to favour mobile friendly websites in search results, which is why every new website should be responsive as standard if it doesn’t offer a mobile alternative.
Carefully considering how your website is used on a small touch screen is a core part of any web designer’s job. Making sure it’s easy to contact you, buy a product on your website, or reach your key services with minimal effort is a priority. It doesn’t matter how many people you get to your website through marketing and SEO if the person browsing becomes lost and confused when they arrive.
Making responsive websites is something I’ve been doing for over five years now and I’ve seen a fair amount of changes in the way people design for mobile phones too. Designing websites for small screens isn’t just a case of making things smaller or hiding the chunky parts of the site you think people on their phone need. In fact it’s always a better approach to consider the mobile users first before you even start considering slow loading carousels and flashy scrolling effects.
The mobile-first approach to designing a website is exactly what the name suggests. This method of web design focuses on the core elements and key messages that allow your customers to get what they need, before you start adding the shiny extras on top.
Mobile-first design results in a content-focused website, which really is the way it should be built anyway. This is especially true if you run a business which offers services to customers who are looking to find out more about you via your website. While there’s no harm in creating something which is impressive and outshines the websites of your competitors, there’s no excuse for losing customers who just don’t know what you do because they couldn’t get past all the bells and whistles in the way.