I've heard of responsive websites but still don't know what they are! Your questions answered, in laymens terms
WHAT IS A RESPONSIVE WEBSITE AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
For those that have not heard of responsive web design, please read on for your own sake! This will be the most painless explanation you'll read on the subject, and will let you know when you need responsive and when you don't.
First, let's put responsive design into context: You may remember the mass exodus away from flash websites that coincided with the widespread use of smartphones. Flash sites do not work on mobile devices nor do they allow the web to read your website's content for SEO purposes. This has made flash, as a website building software, obsolete. The next big shift in the website landscape became the ability to edit and update your own content through user-friendly content management systems (think Wordpress). Now owners can actually update the content on their website themselves, without needing to rely on programmers. Both of these changes have been to the benefit of the website customer and user and responsive is the next movement towards improving your website's effectiveness.
For those that have heard of responsive design, it might already feel like old news in this fast-paced industry. But for those that haven't, read on so you know what everyone's talking about at your next networking event or cocktail party (or so you can be the one to enlighten everyone.) Here are the basics:
WHAT IS IT?
A responsive website is one that adjusts uniquely to any and all device screen sizes. It eliminates the need to zoom in on a phone or tablet to read the text; everything is always large and legible. Whether you're viewing it on a phone, tablet or desktop monitor, your responsive website will readjust your content to an optimal size for whatever device it is on. Here is an example of a site we designed and how it looks on each screen size:
WHY DO I NEED ONE?
Responsive websites have gained incredible traction in the past year. So much so that if today you hire someone to build you a website and it isn't responsive, consider yourself gypped. As computer sales decrease and tablet & mobile sales increase, more and more people will be viewing your website on a smaller devices of varying screen sizes. If it is difficult to navigate and read, even at first glance, it may mean lost customers for you. Plus, having a responsive website tells the world that you (and your business) are current, and in the near future it will be regarded as the standard, making static websites look dated.
WHEN DO I NEED A SEPARATE APP?
Here are a few of the most obvious reasons:
- When it's important for users to be able to interact with it when they don't have internet (for example on the subway)
- When there is a user login and users will constantly be using it (apps allow you to stay logged in, think of your facebook or instagram app)
- When your site is very large and high-functioning, but users will only be using a small part of the site when on mobile (for example, amazon.com orairbnb.com)
- It's going to have a function that you would only use on your mobile device (for example, mobile banking)
SO WILL A RESPONSIVE SITE MAKE ME CURRENT, FRESH AND BADASS FOREVER?
For life? No, sorry. But definitely for now! Technology and its influence on websites is always evolving at an increasingly faster pace. It's hard to keep up, so befriend someone (like us!) that keeps up on the latest to that you always know where you stand. Whether you pride yourself on being cutting edge or not, your business is always asking for it. If you're just starting out, check out our Badass Brandups, an affordable way to get everything you need, including a responsive website!
If you want to take a stab at it yourself, we highly recommend SquareSpace, which is the only platform we use.