Responsive Web Design . . . Why Do You Need It?

Joseph ComoWebsite Trends

RWD is a necessity, not merely a trend, based on numbers culled from media sites. We looked at these media sites because they …

– Have a high volume of visitors

– Have visitors with varied devices, as will your site

– Feature a diverse demographic that likely matches your business in some way

– Understand the need to have content displayed in an engaging, appealing manner

– Stay in front on these issues, as the site itself is their business.


What do the numbers show?

First, that there are many devices out there. One media site, Mashable, reports being accessed by 2,500 different devices in a single month. Those devices also have different screen sizes, adding another element. And they can be turned to enable portrait or landscape views, adding more variables.

Here are some findings from Mashable and other sources in case you think maybe you should develop a site for a PC and hope for the best.

  • In 2012, PC sales were lower than the previous year (for the first time since 2001), Mashable reports.
  • Tablet sales are expected to exceed 100 million in 2013.
  • Tablet sales might exceed the sale of notebooks by 2014.
  • The majority of cell phone subscribers own smartphones, Nielsen reports.
  • The shift to mobile is moving at an amazing rate. Mashable reports that 30 percent of its traffic was mobile early this year—and that number might exceed 50 percent by the end of this year.
  • By 2014, more users are expected to access the internet through cell phones than through desktops, Search Engine Watch reports. (That also means there will be more searches with mobile phones than desktops, which is another SEO consideration.)
  • As of early this year, 25 percent of U.S. adults own a tablet device—double the number from a year earlier, the Pew Research Center reports. (Borrowing within the household means about 28 percent of adults regularly use a tablet, the center reports.)
  • Of those who don’t own a tablet, 23 percent plan to buy one in the next six months—and that was in 2012, when the Pew study was published.
  • The number of smartphones is up dramatically as well, with 44 percent of adults using smartphones as of the beginning of the year, compared with 35 percent in May 2011, the Pew study found.


The impact on you

The numbers are interesting, to be sure. But realizing their impact on commerce is essential to your business.

1. You need customers to have a consistent experience when they visit your site, whether from a cell phone, tablet, desktop computer or some other device. After all, you’ve designed your site to engage those visitors. Yet not having a site that presents you properly means your message can be lost.

2. Some customers use more than one device during the buying process. A customer might, for example, do research on their smartphone at lunch—and visit the site again after work, perhaps from a desktop at home. Creating a consistent experience helps the customer pick up where they left off, limiting frustrations and making the response you want more likely. With responsive design, both the look and the functionality are the same, making for a seamless transition from one device to another.

3. With RWD, software works behind the scenes to quickly resize photos and make other adjustments. The “quickly” ensures users of mobile devices don’t stare at a loading screen before finally giving up and going elsewhere.