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what is a responsive website

What is a responsive website?

The rapid development of mobile devices, each with unique screen resolutions and orientation controls, make the process of designing websites for each application a time consuming nightmare, as used to be the case when creating separate mobile websites (remember m. instead of www. for mobile versions of a website?) So what is a responsive website? Well, it’s a website built which will adapt the content, font size, images, features, etc. to suit the device it is being viewed on. All the website files and code are in the main site. There is no separate website for each device. CSS, media queries, identify what device is being used, and present the relevant information and layout on that device.

Let’s go back a few years. Not long ago the biggest challenge presented to a web developer was the array of web browsers, which rendered websites in different ways. This resulted in lots of trickery to make sure the code behind the website was tweaked to work on all browsers, namely, those which didn’t follow web standards. Internet Explorer, cough, cough!

Today, those particular differences are less of a challenge to a web developer, standards are or have been adopted by most major browsers. There isn’t often that sinking moment when a developer has developed a website in FireFox only to open it in IE and see an utter mess!

However, as always, once one problem is almost resolved, a new challenge is introduced. Mobile technology, phones and tablets, of varying sizes, are the new(ish) headache! The urgency to make sites responsive to mobile devices was created when Google announced changes to their search engine algorithm to credit (maybe penalise) websites that were designed to be easily usable on mobile technology. Responsive web design was invented to address these challenges.

Free responsive website tester

Google even provided a free tool to check your website, go on, check your website now with Googles mobile friendly tester. What you want to see is “AWSOME, your website is mobile friendly“, if you don’t, it’s something you really need to consider addressing if you are serious about your websites search engine rankings, and your customers.

A responsive website means it has been programmed with usability on mobile devices in mind, considering different screen sizes and speed. It allows a website to flex to the size of the screen it’s being viewed on. On a small smart phone the same site is shown as on a laptop, but the site detects the device and automatically reformats to give the user a better experience.

Why is having a responsive website important?

To prove why having a mobile friendly website is so important (other than search engine rankings), answer these questions:

  • What sort of device you’re reading this on? A laptop? Maybe you’re at your desk reading the words on a huge monitor? Are you reading it on a smart phone or a tablet?
  • How often do you view websites on your mobile phone?
  • How often do you sit watching television, browsing on the tablet?

In 2014, users/customers mobile browsing started to match and takeover desktop browsing, surprised? Check your Google Analytics accounts and you may well be!

If SEO is crucial to your business, having a mobile–friendly website is becoming essential. With all the different devices users view websites on having a mobile friendly responsive website is essential! Even gaming consoles can now surf websites.

You can actually use sites like to see if a website is sing a responsive approach. Simply type a website, perhaps yours, into the input field and see how your website looks on various screen sizes.

Benefits of Responsive Websites

  • Responsive sites work well across the multitude of existing devices on the market and are likely to continue to do so for a long time yet, as opposed to the quick dirty solution of a separate mobile website.

  • Optimizing your site makes for happier customers. A quicker download time, a friendly layout for mobile or tablet, with the benefit of increased sales.

  • Responsive sites take a little longer to put together but save time and money. If asked do you want your site to be mobile friendly, the answer should always be yes, even if it adds £300 to the budget, it’s a cheaper solution that having to re-develop the site in the future as responsive sites become more crucial.

  • Managing SEO for separate mobile and desktop sites is ridiculously time consuming and hard with lower results than if the website is responsive.

So what is a responsive website? Put simply, it’s the choice of the smarter website owner, future proofing your website, improving customer experience, benefiting your SEO strategy, and hopefully improving your sales!

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