When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in 2007, he lauded it as the first device to use the “real internet.” We’ve come a long way since then.
Now, we have smartphones of every size and flavor, tablets, internet connected game consoles, smart TVs, smart watches, all of which can display the “real internet.” Where it once made sense for companies to have two separate versions of their website - one for desktop, one for mobile - there are now more devices and screen sizes than anyone can be expected to keep up with. A dedicated website for each not only doesn’t make sense, it’s virtually impossible. And that makes the problem even more pronounced: Content is going to look different on a 27-inch monitor than it will on a 9-inch tablet or a 6-inch phone or a 2-inch watch.
So what’s the answer? How does one tackle a problem like screen-size-a-palooza? What’s a responsible business to do? Luckily, as our technology has gotten smarter, so has our internet. When you load a website, the site knows what kind of device you are on, what browser you are using, and what size screen you are looking at. Wouldn’t it be great if your website could take that information and display a design that was optimized for the right device and the right screen size? Well, it can. This is called “responsive web design.”
Responsive web design has been gaining in popularity for a few years now, and has become the standard. It means that instead of having separate websites for every screen size and device, you have one website that adapts and optimizes for whatever screen you are using to view and interact with it.
So, why does this matter? Why should you care if your website looks “optimized” for an Xbox One or an iPad Pro or a Galaxy S7 Edge? A few reasons. Here’s the big one:
By 2008 people were already predicting that mobile internet usage would overtake desktop by 2014. That happened. Now, people are at least as likely, if not more likely, to access a website on a device other than a computer.
Here’s another reason: if people have a bad experience attempting to use your website on mobile, a full one third will stop using your site. And start using a competitor’s.
Need another? How about Google. Google has come right out and said that responsive websites fare better in search results.
So, if you want people to be able to view your website (since mobile might be the only way they are looking), not jump ship in favor of a competitor, and to actually be able to find your site on Google, you’ll start thinking about having a responsive website.