Responsive Web Design – What it is and how it works

Responsive Web Design for Echo Website

Responsive web design is a new web development technology which lets designers and programmers create a single website which works on all devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

Your mobile options

With smartphone and tablet sales skyrocketing, internet access via mobile devices is growing substantially. In fact, mobile web traffic is expected to surpass desktop traffic by 2015. For most companies, having a well thought out mobile strategy is near the top of their list when looking at website development.

There are basically two options for website mobility. The first is to have a stand-alone mobile website.  The second option is to have a “responsive” site that utilizes responsive web design programming. While a mobile site may be a logical solution for some companies, a responsive site is the best option for most organizations.

How responsive web design works

A responsive website combines the use of flexible grids, images and intelligent media queries which determine the characteristics of a visiting device. A responsive site automatically adjusts it’s layout to best work with the given device based on attributes such as screen size and orientation. So the layout one sees on a small tablet can be much different than the layout one sees on a notebook.

When designing and developing responsive sites, we create layouts for common screen sizes. This includes layouts for a desktop or notebook computer, a large tablet, a small tablet, a horizontal smartphone and a vertical smartphone. So when building a responsive site, we are in essence creating five different layouts. While this may be more work, the end result of a fantastic user experience makes it worth it.

Key advantages to responsive web design

From a user and business perspective, Responsive web design has so many advantages. However, there are three primary advantages that clients typically cite as the best benefits with a responsive site.

Easier to maintain
Is it easier to maintain one site or two? The answer is one and therein lies one of the key advantages with responsive web design. With a responsive site you only need to update and maintain one website. Your SEO and SEM efforts can be focused on one website. Your review of analytics and site performance is for one site. And your hosting and other related costs are for one website. This makes it easier for everyone.

A better user experience
For the site user, a responsive site is flat out a better experience. Unlike a traditional site, no pinching or zooming is required. On the contrary, the user is greeted by a layout that has been carefully crafted to work with their device. Content is legible, navigation is simple and images are proportional. For the site visitor, it adds up to an experience that is without compromise.

Better for SEO
Another big benefit of  a responsive website is SEO performance. Google and Bing have stated quite clearly that responsive web design is their preferred method of web configuration. This is because with a responsive site, there is only one site to index, eliminating redirects to mobile sites. It’s simply easier for search providers.

In addition, with a responsive site, you aren’t splitting your web traffic. As one of our SEO friends, put it “with a responsive site, you won’t give away your Google juice”. Instead, you’ll get full value for each and every website visit. In addition, you’ll have a site that loads faster due to the lack of redirects. Load time is a factor used by search providers when ranking websites.

Lastly, sites that are not optimized for mobile with responsive web design have higher bounce rates. This is due to the fact that users easily get frustrated and consequently leave. A high bounce rate hurts SEO performance.

Our experience

As responsive web design began, we were one of the first web development firms building responsive sites. Along the way, we learned what works and became better at building responsive sites. Today, we are recognized as a leader in responsive web design and we are pushing the envelope with new and exciting responsive web techniques.

To date, we have built more than 20 responsive websites. In fact, pretty much every site we build is a responsive site. We strongly believe in responsive web design and have made it an intergral part of our design and web development processes. In our opinion, it would be irresponsible for us to not offer responsive web design to our clients. It just makes good business sense.

The wrap up

In it’s simplest form, a responsive website helps ensure that a user can see and use the website. After all, it would be a shame to lose a site visitor because they can’t read or navigate your site on their mobile device.

The fact is, we are living in an ever-changing, multi-device world. Today’s websites need to work on a variety of devices, which today is often mobile first. No other solution is as flexible, economical and practical as responsive web design.

Some responsive sites we’ve built

Carlin Manufacturing
Naperville Magazine 
Symphony Health Solutions
Downtown Naperville
The Unified Group
House of Trucks
Nyco Products
C&K Trucking
O’Connor Numismatics
Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery
Kitchens To Go