Let’s do a little experiment. Pull out your phone and type in your company’s website. You will see one of two things: a shrunken recreation of the website you’ve grown used to seeing on your desktop or a neatly rearranged version of your site’s content and navigation perfectly scaled for your phone’s screen. If you found the neat version, congratulations! Your company is using responsive design and meeting the expectations of the modern consumer. However, if you found the shrunken facsimile, let’s spend the next 300 words explaining why you need to embrace responsive design.
As fast as technology seems to be advancing, the sad truth is the foundation for most innovation is the corpse of outdated technology. Everything and anything you can think of may be connected to the Internet, but all that content was built with a very 1993 interpretation of how it may be used, i.e. 20-inch screens and keyboards. Since 2013, the majority of web traffic has been displayed on 4-inch screens, and since the 1993-style code used to design those sites doesn’t know any better, it just shrank everything to fit. Many users hate that shrinkage, and one of every two who encounter it will immediately leave the website.
Now that you realize you’re losing half of your sales to an outdated site, I think you’re in the right place to understand exactly what we’re talking about. Responsive design uses intuitive programming style to react and scale your site’s content based on a visitor’s screen size, browser and operating system. This flexible approach to content presentation allows your customer to interact with your service without the annoyance of zooming, hunting and thumbing around an albatross of a web experience.
The economics of adopting responsive design sell itself. Every major web hosting service and content management system offers responsive templates. From major players like WordPress to open-source options like Joomla, free responsive builds are littering the Internet. Even for those who know nothing and don’t want to know anything about programming, platforms like Squarespace or Wix offer fully responsive sites with security, e-commerce, customer service and drag-and-drop website management starting at $144 annually.
Mobile-friendly web design is not the money pit of building an application; if anything, it is the opposite. Responsive design won’t cost you thousands of dollars to build and then gnaw at your confidence that no one is using it. Your website is the front porch of your business. When customers who drive by your house see an unkempt, rigid porch of an era that has passed, they’ll likely go knock on your competitor’s door. Worst of all, if you don’t make your site mobile-friendly, Google will drop your business in its search rankings — which is basically the safety inspector condemning your digital porch. ♦
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.