Responsive design: a site for any size screen

Ever been on a site that didn’t make sense or was just plain hard to use? Yeah, me too. What about on a mobile device like a phone or an iPad? Have you encountered mysterious black boxes, text that was impossible to read, or menus you couldn’t see?

Crafting a great mobile experience is difficult, but incredibly important. And if you have a business website, the longer you stay out of the game the more you stand to lose.

The Mobile Invasion

Increasingly your customers are abandoning their desktops and laptops in favor of tablets and smart phones. According to this article, the percentage of Americans who own tablets or e-readers jumped from 2% to 30% in the past three years, and according to this study, purchases made on tablets and smart phones increased 81% last year.

What happens if your site doesn’t perform well on mobile? Well, at a recent seminar we attended, a Google representative told us that 65% of people start their search for a product on a smartphone. Of these, 80% will abandon a site that’s not mobile-friendly—even if it’s exactly the product or service they’re looking for! Talk about a lost opportunity.

So is your website accessible to mobile devices?  If not, let me introduce you to something called responsive design.

One site, multiple formats

It used to be that if you wanted your website to look great on a 3” phone, a 10” tablet, a 55” TV or anything in between, you had to build 3 or 4 versions of the same site, each optimized for a different size and shape. As you can imagine, that was tremendously expensive, and a nightmare to maintain and update.

Recently, web designers and developers have been pioneering a new technique called responsive design.The basic idea is that your website “responds” to its environment, so the same site reconfigures itself on the fly, looking good on a 3” phone and a 55” TV. It sounds pretty simple at first, until you start thinking about all the details that you have to get right.

But think of the benefits! Instead of updating 4 or 5 websites, you update one. And instead of paying 400% extra to build multiple versions, you can pay 30-40% extra and get one site that will work on all devices.

Responsive design in action

Want to see it in action? Check out our home page on a desktop or laptop. Grab the right edge of your browser, and drag it to the left, making your screen narrower, and watch what happens as you simulate a smaller screen, then a tablet, then a phone. The different page elements reorganize themselves. And did you notice how the top menu shrinks down into a mobile-friendly dropdown?  Then check out the Our Team page. On a wide screen monitor, the photos are in rows of 3 or 4. As the screen gets smaller, the photos stack on top of one another, and then shrink in order to fit inside the narrow browser window.

It’s pretty cool technology, but more important, it’s an economical way to give your customers a great experience, no matter what device they may be using.

And so …

Want to learn more? Call me, and we’ll do lunch or coffee. Or better yet, let me host you in our newly-renovated conference room. We’ll review your site and talk about how we can help propel it (and your business) to great things in 2013.

Let’s do great things together.

Tim Joiner, CEO

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