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Responsive websites: seamless adaptation to the times

It's a mobile world; don't leave your website to die on a desk(top)

time to adapt

Does your business website have a responsive design yet? If not, your website is old and outdated, and you risk not being seen. If you want your website to appear in internet browser searches or be readable on any device, anywhere, then it must have a responsive design that is adaptable based on the needs of your site visitors. A responsive website supplies the information your potential and existing clients need in a seamless, convenient way, whether they view your site from a desktop, smartphone, laptop, or tablet. 

When it comes to technology, there is no place for old and outdated—it’s adapt or die. Even the giants of software and devices, Microsoft and Apple, discontinue support for their outdated software programs or operating systems (so long, Windows 7; adiós iTunes). If your website hasn’t been updated in the last five years, chances are it may suffer from one or all of these issues: a lack of security, unresponsiveness, or ADA non-compliance.

Shapeshifting abilities required

responsive, mobile-friendly websites

A responsive website design (RWD) makes an easy-to-view and navigable experience for your site visitors, regardless of the device they are using. The website design responds to the orientation and size of the visitor’s screen, so no matter what device they are using, the design will create a smooth, accessible experience.

Biz Webmaster’s Director of User Interface, Sarah King, explains, “Responsive design is thinking about the needs of the end user based on the type of device they are using, the size of that device, and the information that is most important to see first, based on screen size. For example, how do we maximize the use of the smaller real estate of a phone screen but still get all of the same information in an intuitive manner on each page?” Sarah continues, “One example is the main navigation. The font would be super tiny and not very readable if we left it all in a horizontal row. We could put it into just a plain link list at the top of each page, but then it takes more scrolling to get to the information below it. Thus, the industry standard is to use a collapsible ‘hamburger’ menu where this link list collapses and is hidden when its not in use.”

The layout of a responsive website may vary from device to device, depending on the screen size and resolution. Responsive design quickly adapts to lower or crowded bandwidths by omitting slow-to-load elements, such as large photos, and simplifying navigation when viewed from a smartphone.

Ever pulled a website up on your mobile phone only to find that you had to manipulate the image just to read the text or move the image around to find the navigation? Mobile-friendly websites make it so little resizing, panning, or scrolling is necessary for visitors to get to the information they need. Whether on a phone, tablet, or desktop, your business website automatically resizes to maximize the user experience for those device sizes.

Here’s an example of how one of our business websites changes depending on the device. 

Be responsive to the needs of your clients 

do you know your customers

If you’ve been procrastinating a redesign because you’re not convinced it matters to your audience, it’s time to get your head out of the sand. Essentially everyone has a smartphone, and if they don’t today, they will tomorrow. A responsive business website tells your potential clients that you are here, in the now, and that you care about their experience with your company, on every level.

Having a responsive website design helps you avoid certain navigation problems. Static sites viewed from a mobile device often have usability issues like non-clickable links, tiny text and navigation too small to read, images that take up the whole screen, and various scrolling problems. A responsive website design allows your business to present itself in a crisp and clean way. 

Responsive and accessible: the perfect couple

Make your business website stand up and speak out by making it accessible to the visually impaired (or anyone over 40 who needs reading glasses!) to view it without zooming in and out since the responsive design resizes it automatically to the screen. 

A responsive design assists with accessibility standards. If you need to become accessible, consider creating a responsive design at the same time. Responsiveness and accessibility serve the same functions; the two are very complementary. It is ideal to develop both at the same time. The strategy involved in making a site that adjusts to various devices requires coding a site to standards that also move you toward website accessibility. Going responsive is a step in the right direction toward business website accessibility. 

Although not a requirement across all industries, website ADA compliance is at the heart of website accessibility. Fortunately, a responsive design, together with an ADA-compliant website helps ensure compatibility with the different devices your potential customers use. It also helps to ensure the proper functioning of screen readers and other accessibility devices. 

Tried and true design—because it works

When developing a responsive website, avoid getting too fancy. Tried and true website architecture works. It works because people know where to go to get what they want. Use horizontal and drop-down navigation as needed. Quick links help target certain audiences such existing clients, new customers, and press. However, categories should not dictate your primary navigational structure, because not all your visitors will fit those molds.

To create a responsive website design, developers typically employ a grid layout, which allows the resizing and rearrangement of specific elements to adjust to the screen size. This structure is why responsive sites generally have a similar stacking pattern, particularly when seen from tablet and phone views. Using a familiar formula for site structure means navigation of your website will be relatively easy.

Cool and unique website design ideas are awesome; we totally respect creativity. However, don’t let the reason you have a website get lost in unfamiliar navigation. Remember, when your customers access your website remotely, they are on the fly, their arms are full, and they don’t have the patience to figure things out. They have a purpose, and they need to find information fast. They’re looking for your address, your phone number, the price of your product, specs, or whatever. The point is, they are looking for something specific. Don’t worry if your mobile design doesn’t create exciting, new experiences for your visitors. Using a simple design that you know works is the way to go.

Stay relevant

mobile phone

As a tech company, we understand the thrill, and the pain, of technology that changes at breakneck speeds. A responsive website is exactly that: responsive. It’s fluid and flexible. That means it will adapt and morph with tomorrow’s technology, or at least until something completely new comes along and dumps us all upside down again. Stay current and confident. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with your ears plugged and your eyes blindfolded, you probably realize that more and more people access the internet from their smartphone. Have you checked your Google Analytics in the last few years to see who your audience is and what types of devices they use to access your business website?

And did you know that for five years, Google has been giving higher ranking on their search engine to responsive websites? In order to get new leads, get the sales, or get the word out, it’s important to invest time and effort into a responsive business website that will help you be found.

Up until just recently, some companies actually created a separate mobile website. This was basically another version of their business website designed especially for mobile devices. Rather than one site to manage, there were two. Keeping two websites on two web addresses/URLs updated meant twice as much work. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Google penalized companies for having duplicate content out there because it raises a spam flag. The second website actually hurts your Google rankings. Thankfully, responsive business websites do away with that redundancy.  

Is your business website design resilient? Is it ready to give your prospective customers the answers they seek in a smooth and professional manner? Take time to evaluate your business website’s effectiveness. Of course, at Biz Webmasters, we are here to help! We are committed to offering our clients a product that represents their brand. Request a quote, or call us at 602-750-4556 to discuss your website needs.