What is truly responsive website development?

What is truly responsive website development?

There’s a lot of talk these days about making a website responsive, but what does it really mean to me responsive? Does it mean squishing a full size desktop site down so it fits on a phone? Or hiding some things on your site when viewed on a phone or tablet? Is it enough to make a site usable on all devices to call it responsive or is there more to it than that?

With more people using their phone as their only Internet browsing device, there’s no question that you need a website that works well for visitors on their phones. In fact:

  • Over half of all Internet traffic now is on mobile devices
  • Most people use multiple devices before completing a transaction online
  • If it takes more than 5 seconds to load your website, you will lose over 70% of your visitors
  • Google search recommends having one site that is responsive rather than a mobile-specific, separate site

The approach that your web developer should take in building your site is to think mobile-first. This means looking at the content and deciding how best to show it on a phone and tablet with an easy to use menu and navigation system for your website. By working first with the layout and design of the phone, you can be sure your content is well presented and easy to read without distractions and needing to scroll through extraneous images you don’t want to deal with on your phone.

Designing mobile first also means only loading the parts of the website that are needed for mobile presentation. This has a major impact on how quickly (or slowly) your website loads. But many web developers try to take short-cuts and design the desktop version of your site first, then simply hide some parts from the desktop and call it a responsive, mobile site. Hiding things on a website means the full desktop version of the site with all your beautiful images are downloaded in full for the mobile visitor on their phone. This can mean much slower load time, more data usage and a generally unpleasant experience for the visitor.

Things your “responsive” website developer may be doing incorrectly:

  • Hiding content or images using CSS
  • Downloading larger images than needed
  • Not using a sprite to save download time and bandwidth
  • Not keeping up to date with the latest web development techniques

Get in touch today so we help make your site a performant, truly responsive website.