Now that smartphones are just as sophisticated and powerful as many laptop computers, the days of dedicated mobile websites are over. Instead, one code can be used to create a website that looks great on multiple platforms. Called “responsive design,” this approach lets developers create a flexible website that automatically adjusts to the screen and environment it is displayed on. Responsive design offers major advantages compared to other methods of accommodating multiple devices. Here is why:
One HTML File to Rule Them All
The best part about responsive design is that the designer can create a web page all in one go. In the past, many websites created a smaller mobile version that acted as a “lite” copy of the original page’s design. The entire page had to be reconstructed from the ground up, and often many things were left out or modified. What resulted was two completely different web pages that divided the experience between mobile and desktop in a way that could easily hurt branding or make mobile feel like “second class.”
With responsive design, you keep nearly all of the design elements of the original desktop web page and find ways to instruct the code to adjust in real time to the viewing display. You eliminate the need for two teams, two layouts and two sets of code.
You also get to use just one URL for people to visit. This consistency prevents forcing mobile users to redirect, which can hurt your search engine results since the clicks are divided into two URL paths.
Prepare for Nearly Any Viewing Environment
Another shortcoming of a dedicated mobile site is that it assumes set screen resolutions. Since there are so many different devices between tablets, smartphones and others, your website can look a million different ways to different people — often displaying incorrectly to a majority of them.
Responsive design can automatically adjust to any viewing screen by nature of the coding. HTML files recognize the screen display used and CSS or other style files can set rules that ensure that a website will be viewable and usable on any sort of device.
With new larger smartphones like the iPhone 6 plus and the Galaxy Note 4, as well as devices like the iPad mini, guessing what display size your visitors are using is now nearly impossible. You are better off being able to respond to any display size, which has the added benefit of looking great on multiple desktop monitor sizes as well.
Google Prefers It
If the flexibility of responsive design is not attractive enough on its own, it comes with added benefits. In April, Google set a deadline for websites to add mobile-friendly coding features that would make the viewing experience for mobile users better. In their recommendations for how to comply, they strongly recommended responsive design as the solution to becoming mobile-friendly. Their exact words were “Google recommends using RWD [responsive web design] over other design patterns.” They even went as far as to italicize it.
Websites that are able to comply with Google’s best practices for mobile will see a marginal increase in their search engine rankings for mobile device users. This boost can seriously help distinguish a brand from their competition, giving special emphasis to the growing mobile browsing market.
Google knows that having a high-quality mobile experience is more important than ever since the majority of online searches are coming from mobile. Brands should follow Google’s lead and meet the demand of the growing mobile sector in ways that improve your site’s usability and reputation.
To learn more about mobile-friendly websites, check this guide by digital.com.
For help creating a mobile-friendly website of your own using the best standards of responsive design, you can enlist our mobile website design services.