Until recent times, a fixed width webpage layout was an acceptable way to present your website to the world. Smart phones were expensive, desktop computers were much more common than tablets and sites that alter in width and layout depending on what device they are being viewed on was not a priority for most web site owners. The last three or four years has seen a sea change in the attitudes of business owners towards responsive sites. Its the nice to have feature of a website! No pinching and scrolling to find that bit of information you found on that site you were looking at on your big computer at home before you were out and about.
Many company owners, and people who run clubs or information websites were and still are grateful to have any web presence at all, much less a website that has any kind of design integrity and usability. However, a responsive site should be the first item on the list for a business looking to create a good impression online.
Responsive Websites, what exactly are they?
Industry insiders will need to forgive me but for the sake of those who don’t spend eight hours a day sitting at a computer let me explain exactly what a responsive website can do:
A responsive site simply responds to the size of the device that it is being viewed upon, be that a smart phone, a hand held tablet and desktop computers. There are a ton of different methods to achieve this but if you are a business owner and your site does get a lot of traffic, then you would do well to get your site converted. In particular, if you have a site that you sell things from, a responsive site is pretty much essential if you want to engage with the mobile world. Mobile phone usage for viewing websites has seen an exponential rise in the last couple of years. Very soon, the percentage of desktop machines accessing the web will be in the minority. According to Forbes magazine, mobile phones alone accounted for 12% of web traffic as of April 2012. Ipads and other tablets are getting more popular too and are at the top of many people’s Christmas wish list.
Most big businesses are no doubt aware of these issues and most marketing departments of big businesses have enabled responsive sites or will be converting – if they haven’t already.
Are Responsive Websites necessary for smaller businesses?
In short, yes. If you have a brochure site without any of the fancy online shopping features yet you still provide a service which people pay for or you provide information of any kind, then your customers will get bored of pinching and scrolling across their device and will go elsewhere which isn’t a good idea. People use websites to get things done and any resistance will be mildly irritating at best. You don’t want your restaurant, home made cupcake business or construction company to lose out because your website is tricky and fiddly to use.
For smaller businesses on a tight budget, I can customise a WordPress theme which will have responsiveness built in. There are usually several “breakpoints” in the code so that the screen layout gets triggered to change as the screen gets smaller. Typically, if the desktop version of the webpage had two columns, then it would jump to one column for example.
Enterprise businesses may wish to have a responsive site set up from scratch since they may have particular needs that cannot be met by a ready made theme. Such solutions can prove time consuming and therefore require a higher budget.
If you want to talk about getting your site converted to a responsive website or you want a responsive website building from scratch please get in touch.