By now, you’ve probably heard the term “Responsive Web Design” (RWD). As a matter of fact, you’ve probably heard it a few too many times. Lately, the term has been thrown around by so many people that it’s quick encroaching on buzzword status. But there’s a reason why RWD has spread like wildfire—it’s revolutionary.
The web has grown a lot in the last few years—from emerging technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 that allow us to make lightning-fast, modern, and well-structure web pages, to significant advancements in interactivity. But another more interesting shift has occurred in the behavior of those users we’re designing websites for.
As phones and tablets become more capable and convenient, more and more users are now accessing search engines and websites from their mobile devices.
In December 2013, a study was conducted by comScore, Nester Localize, and agency 15 Miles that shows that 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchase. That’s huge considering that the following statistics from Pew Research:
- 90% of American adults have a cell phone
- 58% of American adults have a smartphone
- 32% of American adults own an e-reader
- 42% of American adults own a tablet computer
So in 2014, having a mobile-friendly website is safely a no-brainer. “Ok,” you might say, “but there’s a plugin for that. Done.” But these day’s that’s not enough. There’s something so much more special about true responsive web design.
So What Exactly Is Responsive Web Design?
The term, “Responsive Web Design” was coined by Ethan Marcotte in 2010 and is without a doubt the new standard in how websites are designed and developed. As the number of different smartphones, tablets, and desktop computer screen sizes expanded it became more difficult to design a website that could accommodate all these different devices sizes.
The solution? Why not design a website that dynamically adjust itself to the size of the screen (or viewport) of the device itself? Responsive web design utilizes percentage based widths, as opposed to fixed pixel widths, that allow content to flow and adjust itself to display properly on your devices.
Looking at the image below, we see a great example of a responsive web page courtesty Designmodo:
Other than a great user experience and future-proof device compatibility, what are some other benefits of Responsive Web Design? Consider the old Google adage, “what’s good for the searcher is good for the search engines.”
- Google favors mobile-optimized websites, and specifically recommends Responsive Web Design
- RDW can make websites easier and more enjoyable to use, impacting things like engagement, time on site, bounce rate, and conversions
- A well-designed, responsive website has a huge impact on the perception of your brand and the quality of your goods/services