Responsive Web Design is a need rather than a want

Is your website Mobile Responsive as yet?

We are a Sydney based web solutions provider specializing in Web Design, App Development and Search Engine Marketing. Last few weeks we have received a number of enquiries from businesses of all shapes and sizes wanting to know what exactly Responsive Web Design was and how much would it cost them to build a responsive website or convert their existing website into a responsive one.
Given the volume of calls and enquiries we are getting, I thought it is a good idea to write a blog on the topic and cover most of the questions that are asked by my prospective customers. The job gets a bit simple then, I pass this link on and they get an understanding of all they need to know about Responsive Web Design and perhaps make an informed decision.
This blog covers What Responsive Design is, how is it different from a dedicated Mobile Website and why businesses serious about their online presence need to change to a Responsive Website.

What is Responsive Web Design?

As the name suggests Responsive Web Design is methodology of developing websites that ensures a website responds to the user and the environment which includes the screen size of the device, the platform and orientation. The aim is to provide an optimal User Experience irrespective of the device the website is being viewed on. These websites are based on the concept of fluid grid layout using CSS3, Media Queries and Flexible Images to produce desired results.
So basically Responsive Web Design means one code or one website for multiple devices. By building a Responsive website you are future proofing your website you are future proofing your website for the next generation devices.
An interesting article about Responsive Web Design was written by Ethan Marcotte in 2010 that compares the methodology of Responsive Web Design to Responsive Architecture. He also puts forward the methodology used to build Responsive Websites through a few examples.

How is Responsive Web Design different from Mobile websites?

There is often confusion between Mobile Responsive websites and Dedicated Mobile websites therefore I thought it is worth explaining the distinction between the two methodologies of developing websites.
As discussed above Mobile Responsive websites are built on a fluid grid layout and the design responds to the device it is being viewed on. On the other hand a mobile website is designed using a mobile template and often have a separate URL that starts with an ‘m’. This indicates that this is a mobile website. A mobile website is basically a smaller version of your Desktop Centric website and is built keeping in mind the constraints of navigation and viewing on a mobile device. This provides a much better User Experience to mobile users overall. On the downside, mobile sites are run on a separate domain and this can cause problems from an SEO point of view and also this adopting this methodology does not future proof your website for next generation mobile devices.

Why do you need a Responsive Website moving forward?

Human Behaviour is Changing- The way humans access the internet is changing. Users are no longer accessing the internet on their Mobile devices including Tablets and Smartphone’s. To put things into perspective think of your Television, you just cannot access digital signals on a Analog Television and you either need to upgrade to a Digital Ready Television or perhaps buy a device that can convert your existing television to one that can access Digital Signals. Similarly if you need users to view your website properly, you will need to convert your website into a Responsive Web Design.
Google has Changed- Google has recently updated (21 April 2015) its algorithm that will penalize websites in Mobile search results i.e. if your website is still Desktop centric your Rankings in SERP’s for Mobile users will be lower as compared to Responsive Websites.
Lower Levels of User Experience and thus lower sales – If your website is not Mobile Responsive this means that the User needs to constantly pinch in order to zoom in to read the content and access buttons on the User Interface to navigate between different sections of the website. The truth is users don’t have the patience to deal with this and end up exiting a website before making an intended action such as a purchase or filling an enquiry form.
Leads to Higher Bounce Rates- In continuation from the above point , if the users cannot access a webpage properly they may end up exiting the website more quickly thus leading to a higher bounce rate. For those of you who don’t understand what bounce rate is, it is the percentage of users who exit a website after viewing only one page. Research indicates that 1 in 4 mobile users leave a Desktop centric website as compared to 1 in 11 users for a Mobile friendly websites.
An Investment that will pay off in the long run- If you are dead serious about your online presence and if in the past you have been successful in generating leads for your business through your online presence then make a smart decision and Invest in a Mobile Responsive Web Design. How I look at it is simple, if your website is responsive then your prospective customers are likely to spend more time on your website and undertake the desired actions such as make a purchase or fill an enquiry form. This means an Inflow because of an Outflow you had made earlier on. Infact Responsive Web Design is not a very expensive proposition, on an average a Responsive website will cost you 20-30% more than a Non Responsive website. This can be mainly attributed to the amount of time it takes to test the website across various devices based on different platforms.
It is competitive out there- Chances are that some of your competitors have already invested in Responsive Web Design and you are losing business to them. Run a simple search on Google for the most likely keywords that a user will find you with and see how many of your competitors are already responsive. Users who are ready to make a purchase but cannot access your website properly will obviously end up on your competitors website and perhaps make a purchase there since their website is responsive and lets them easily access all the information that they need before making the purchase.
Here are some Interesting Facts about Mobile Device Usage in Australia

81% Australians own a Smartphone.
53% Australians own a Smartphone, Tablet and a Laptop.
90% Smartphone owners use their mobile device to conduct a local search.
78% Smartphone Users research for a product using their device.
41% Smartphone Users have made a purchase using their device.
25% Tablet Users have made a purchase using their device
38% Smartphone Users have used their device to find out more about a particular retailer
To sum it up, Responsive Web Design is the future and if you are serious about your online presence then you need to make the move now!