Thursday, 22 January 2015

Are you responding to responsive design?

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard over the last few years, but responsive design for websites and marketing emails, isn’t the future – it’s here already. What’s more, if your website or your clients’ websites aren’t responsive, you should now be starting to get to grips with bringing them up to date.

How do we define ‘responsive design’?

In basic terms, responsive design can be explained as building websites that provide an optimal viewing experience on a wide range of mobile, tablet, phablet, laptop and PC devices. To get that great user experience on all of these, the site will need to be easy to read and navigate without the need for resizing, pinching/zooming, panning, and scrolling.
With mobile internet access and online shopping growing exponentially on smartphones and tablets, your site should now be designed for ‘mobile first’. It makes sense as you need to cater for the growing number of people interacting this way. Put simply, it’s good for business.

To start with, try to de-clutter your site. Check your analytics for popular pages and remove or combine those that aren’t serving a purpose.  Review your menu options, not only the number of them, but the wording. Keep menu options short and to the point, and put them in a logical running order.

These are important as once your site goes from laptop to mobile, the navigation menu will increase in priority, and your content will start to stack on top of each other, so the more relevant it all is the better. Your web designer will also make your site work if the phone or tablet is turned on its side, so designing for the orientation of the device will be taken in to account.

Any link buttons and menu options need to be of a reasonable size, think of the app icons on your phone, these are a good guide. Text on the pages needs to be of a reasonable size so customers don’t have to pinch and zoom to read about you, contact you or buy from your site.

In short, the aim of responsive design is to have your site, or your email marketing campaign, look fabulous on pretty much any device. For many companies, designing a site this way will preclude the need for separate ‘apps’ or different versions of the site.

However, there may still be the need for an app. Responsive design might not be the panacea for all businesses and there may be room for a separate app as well. For example, if you have one particular type of interaction such as a calculator or shopping channel, or you need to use geo-location, then the app could just focus on this one aspect. The good thing here is they are on your customers’ devices and are just one click away and they may not need an internet connection to be used. But remember, apps don’t help with SEO, and you’ll have to promote them directly to your audience, at some cost.

There are many other arguments for and against having both, but the core company website should be ‘responsive’. And now’s the time to make that happen.

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