The term “responsive web design” has greatly increased in popularity over the past couple of years. It has become so mainstream that web designers have almost completely adapted this concept as the new standard. The takeover of responsive design has come about because of the explosion of touch screens and mobile devices. According to some sources, 75-80% of US adults own a smart phone as of December 2014. This is not far behind the 91% that own a Personal Computer or laptop.
Responsive Web Design Explained
The idea behind a responsive website means the website will respond, or react, depending on the user's screen size, whether on an iPhone 3G screen or a large desktop monitor. Websites respond to screen sizes using a fluid grid system, where each column of the grid can resize or reposition depending on the width of the screen size. Within each proportion, the columns can shrink or grow to maximize the display area. For smaller screen sizes, the columns can stack on top of each other to allow for easy readability while not losing any elements of the content.
How Google is Changing Searching, Again
Starting April 21, 2015, Google will be updating their search algorithms by giving higher priority to websites that are mobile friendly. They have already been identifying websites that are mobile friendly with a tag placed before the website description. This has the possibility of having a huge impact on organic search rankings for companies that have not made the decision to create a mobile-friendly website. While not only affecting rankings, it will also influence a viewer’s choice of which website to visit, with mobile-friendly being a top choice. While Google has verified that users on a tablet will be treated like desktop users, this will be changing in the not-so-distant future.
Google Analytics provides great data on how many of your users are on a mobile device; the average for websites is about 30% currently, but this number is expected to be over 50% within the next couple of years. Even if your reports show smaller precentages, current trends indicate that organic search engine rankings, both mobile and desktop, will continue to be based on whether or not your website is mobile friendly.
Tip: Websites can be verified if Google sees them as mobile friendly or not by going to this website:
In the past, one way a company could adapt is by creating a separate mobile website, which meant they would have two different versions of a website: one version for phone and another version for desktop. While a mobile website is a good start, it is restrictive. First, businesses must update separate versions of their websites, which can double the time it takes to make any edits to the site. It also leaves out a large portion of users on tablets. From Microsoft’s Surface to Apple’s iPad, many people are opting for a device that is much easier to carry with them than a laptop. Even with the limitations of a mobile site, some companies are finding mobile sites to be a good temporary measure based on the needs of their customers.
The Future of Responsive Web Design
There is no longer a standard phone, tablet or monitor display size, and new screen sizes and resolutions for these devices rise each year. Our methods of interacting with the web and the accessibility of the Internet continue to evolve. Having a responsive website is the best way to know your site will give your customers the best user experience possible.
Technology has proven that it can progress quickly. How many times have you bought a new phone just to have something better come out a short time later? So, what does this mean for responsive web design? Will it be a thing of the past in the near future? While responsive web design does have a few limitations, its flexibility and power will be around for many years to come.