Any Way You Want It, That’s The Way You Need It.

Written by Kim Chapman, Senior Account ExecutiveOur TWO Sense: Any Way You Want, That's The Way You Need It.

I don’t know about you, but the last year or so I have noticed a gradual evolution in the way a lot of websites look, and the way in which I interact with them. The phenomenon behind this change is something called Responsive Web Design, or RWD. It’s not a fad. In fact it’s seen by many as the industry standard in web design, and for good reason.

Simply defined, RWD fluidly responds to whatever screen you are viewing a website. This means that whether you are on your desktop, Kindle Fire, iPod, Samsung Galaxy or iPhone, the webpage you are viewing will look beautiful and be user-friendly.

Two things I have noticed when using RWD sites are the following:

–       Great readability without needing to zoom in or use a magnifying glass: Have you ever tried to read a website on your phone only to get frustrated and abandon the site? This does not happen with RWD.

–       Continuous scrolling: An efficient way to browse information instead of searching and clicking on different links to find what you are looking for. When clicking to another page is necessary, buttons are big and easy to click on.

The best way to appreciate RWD is to see some examples. Three great ones are The Boston Globe, Disney, and Sasquatch Music Festival. (Three very different sites, but all able to use RWD beautifully.) If you are reading my blog post on a desktop, all you have to do to see RWD in action is make your browser window smaller or bigger. You will see that the website layout changes with your window size. If you are reading on a tablet or mobile, see how it looks on a desktop by comparison. While no screen will show the website the same, it will be user-friendly on all.

On the flip-side, here is a screen shot of a site that is NOT at all cross-device user friendly:AnyWay_notdevicefriendly

 

That’s what’s displayed on my iPhone when I go to the site. Mind you that the desktop rendition has 8 links across the top of the site, but I can’t access any of them from my phone. And when I try to scroll sideways, or down, nothing happens.

Given that Internet usage on a mobile device has surpassed that of desktop (you read that correctly), having a website that is mobile friendly is uber-important. If you abandon a site out of frustration or inability to use it properly, you may not remember it the next time you are at your desktop computer the next day in the office. And with more people being on mobile devices, advertisers are following, with mobile ad spend set to surpass desktop. And if you are scrolling through Facebook on your cell phone (as many of us do), and you click on a newsfeed ad that leads you to a website, that site better be user-friendly or those ad dollars will have been in vein.

Ok, you get it. RWD is a good thing. But why not just create a separate mobile site. Well, for a couple of reasons:

–       According to Nielson Norman Group, a user experience research, training and consulting company, “RWD is also relatively ‘future-proof’ in that it can support new breakpoints needed at any time. RWD doesn’t tie design to a particular device.”

–       It’s better for search engines because they only have to crawl and index 1 website as opposed to two websites with similar information. In fact, RWD is Google’s recommendation for mobile optimization: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/smartphone-sites/

The catch (because there’s always a catch) is that developing a website using RWD takes some time, and thoughtfulness. But then again, shouldn’t most good things? If you want a website that will engage users/customers and get them to take an action no matter where they are or what device they are using, responsive web design is the way to go, and I believe it’s here to stay.

If you are interested in implementing a responsive and effective website, contact me at kchapman@twochicago.com

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