Website showing on tablet and phone

What is Responsive Design and Why Does My Website Need It?

By Elliot Olson

By Elliot Olson

Lead Web Designer + Digital Strategist

Have you ever visited a website on your phone and noticed slight differences compared to the “computer version” of the website?

Maybe the images are smaller.

Or the formatting is changed.

If nothing else, the menu is now a symbol like    rather than the usual horizontal layout.

If you’ve ever used a phone or tablet to access a website, then you’ve experienced responsive design.

In fact, responsive design is what makes it easy and natural to access websites across all our different devices — and it’s time for websites without responsive design to catch up.

What is responsive design?

Responsive design is a way to create websites that are optimized across all devices. Once upon a time, websites were built specifically for desktop computers — but no longer.

Nowadays, websites need to look good on many devices: desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, and more.

With so many screens to keep in mind, what’s a website designer to do.

Two words — responsive design.

Websites using responsive design automatically adapt to the screen sizes on which they are viewed.

Responsive mobile website design examples

The goal of responsive design is to make viewing on different devices natural and easy, especially on smartphones and tablets. Responsive design accomplishes this by avoiding unnecessary resizing, scrolling or zooming.

Among other things, a website that follows good responsive design principles features…

  • Legible text that doesn’t require zoom
  • Images that aren’t cut off on small screens
  • Easy navigation without clunky desktop menus

For many new website designs, responsive design is automatically included — or at least it should be!

However, many existing websites were built before responsive design entered the scene. And now, they’re in trouble.

Why does responsive design matter?

Over 50% of all web traffic is on mobile devices, and mobile traffic is expected to increase by 25% by 2025.

In other words, more and more people are accessing web content from their phones and tablets — and the trend will not reverse any time soon.

If your website doesn’t look good on mobile, you’re missing out. Your website is losing traffic and leads compared to your competitors.

Here are 4 specific reasons that mobile design matters for your website.

1. Responsive design is more attractive for web visitors

No matter what your website goal is (and yes, you should have a single, clear website goal!), visitors need to be able to use your website.

And while desktop or laptop users may be able to easily navigate and interact with your website, what about phone and tablet users?

If a visitor has a hard time accessing your website, it detracts from their experience — and makes it less likely that they form a positive impression of your business.

61% of users are unlikely to return to a site on mobile if they had trouble accessing it — and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.

Audiences are turned off by websites that don’t work — and a non-responsive website that requires scrolling, zooming, pinching, and guessing definitely doesn’t work.

The result? Lost audiences, fewer visitors, and decreasing sales.

Yikes.

The single most important benefit of responsive design is a positive user experience.

Thanks to responsive design, your website visitors will be…

  • Guided by intuitive mobile navigation
  • Welcomed with clear, scaled content
  • Better able to find important information like store location and hours

2. Responsive design improves SEO

You need a website that works for your audience, no matter what size devices they use.

Consider this: nearly 8 in 10 of consumers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.

You can’t afford to lose 8 in 10 website visitors.

Instead of turning off visitors, a responsive website design makes your website more attractive. As a result, your site can retain visitors and keep them easily navigating through your content.

What does it mean if your website has more visitors, and visitors who stay for longer periods of time?

That’s simple. Your website will be much more attractive to search engines.

And speaking of search engines, let’s talk about the elephant in the room — Google.

Google drives over 70% of desktop searches — and a staggering 91% of mobile search traffic.

Google makes it no secret that their algorithm values mobile-friendly websites. 
If your website isn’t responsive, it’s costing you traffic and search engine rankings.

3. Responsive design is easier for you to manage

In the past, website owners had to choose if they would build one website or many.

By default, their website would be optimized for desktop or laptop computes.

As the number of devices grew, owners had to decide if they would continue to build a single website for computer users — or have several versions of their website for different screen sizes.

As you can imagine, having multiple websites led to confusion and headaches for many website owners.

It was expensive to build multiple versions of the same website. Plus, once the sites were done, web owners had to remember to keep their content aligned.

  • Did you remember to update hours on the “desktop” version of your website…but not on the “phone” version?
  • Are you offering a sale with a beautiful banner on your desktop…but it’s cut off on small phone screens?

Now that responsive design is widely used, website owners face fewer expenses and need less time to maintain their website.

4. Responsive design automatically adapts to future devices

New phones and tablets are released each year, with new screen sizes to consider.

As a business owner, you don’t have time to test your website every time a new screen size hits the market.

Rather than trying to react to new screen sizes by scrambling to create a new mobile version of your website, responsive design allows your website to automatically adapt to new screen dimensions.

This means adapting your images, text, and buttons to fit screens no matter which size they are — now and well into the future.

Responsive design can keep you ahead of the competition.

If you’re ready to update your website with responsive design, or wondering if your website is mobile-friendly, drop me a line.

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