You only need to look around you to see how the smartphone has gone from luxury gadget to  must have accessory. But you may not be aware of how fast the take-up of tablet devices has been. According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, the company sold around 67 million iPads in its first 2 years (it took 3 years before they’d sold the same amount of iPhones and nearly quarter of a century to shift that many Macs!) and in the first quarter of 2012 they sold an incredible 15 million of them. Add to that the prediction that 1.2 billion smartphones will enter the market in the next 5 years and we can see that the desire to access the internet on the go is set to become the most common means of browsing the web – mobile internet usage is predicted to overtake PCs by 2015.  That’s why this year will see a huge surge in Responsive Design websites.

Designing a website for mobiles.

tablet and mobile website designWhen the popularity of mobiles and smartphones really started to take off, people wanted to browse the web on them as simply as they do on a normal computer. To cater for this market, web designers began developing mobile versions of their sites. This meant that each website would have a normal desktop version and a bonus mobile version. Sounds a good, simple solution doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, we never stop inventing things and soon there were tablets, notebooks, various  sizes of laptops. Not to mention all sorts of gaming devices.  An array of screen sizes and resolutions appears all the time and so just building a new version of your website to fit each device has ceased to become practical. Enter responsive web design.

What exactly is Responsive Design?

‘Responsive’ is, basically, mobile friendly website design and it’s rapidly becoming an industry standard. Blending various forms of CSS and Javascript, it allows web designers to develop a site to be flexible, dependent on the device that’s accessing it. The general design and functionality of the site can be fluid across multiple platforms. To illustrate what I mean, try shrinking this page to emulate the screen size of a tablet or phone.

As you can see, the responsive design of this website enables it to adapt to the size of browser. The site ‘queries’ what resolution it’s being viewed on and then the flexible components are sized to fit the screen optimally. For browsers, it ensures a perfect experience on any screen.

Responsive Design for SEO reasons.

Creating a new version of the site for each device would mean each would have to have its own unique URL,  yet the same fixed website content would be used across all these versions. As you may be aware, Google is not a massive fan of duplicate content, so it would have a field day. For example, Tesco’s mobile website (m.tesco.com) has 140000 pages of potentially the same content as it’s existing site. Furthermore, their SEO campaigns would have to be carried out over both sites (and a third if there’s a tablet version) – which is an awful lot of work.

Google want to ensure their users are directed toward a positive browsing experience and they recommend using responsive design as these sites are easier to crawl and index,  only needing to do it  once. It also means users only need the one URL, making it simpler for them to share and link to the site.

If your website isn’t responsive to the device it’s being viewed on, it could be letting you down. This doesn’t just mean it won’t look as good – it could be far more difficult to navigate and use, leading to  potential customers abandoning you and trying your competitors instead. Most companies in the process of redeveloping their website are taking this into account and 2013 will undoubtedly be  the year of responsive website design: it will represent a fundamental shift in the way we build websites for many years to come.

To stay ahead of the pack and ensure your website is responsive to tablet and mobile devices, call us on 0161 875 2528.