The first thing that most clients ask me when they want to know about responsive design, is what advantage it has over traditional “boilerplate” designs. Here are some of the best reasons:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important to everyone who competes for position in search results. The keywords you use have a unique result in every search engine. If you are a photographer and someone searches for “photographers in Maine” that will yield a different result than say “local photographers”. Every search engine has its own criteria for what raises or lowers your site in the search results. Responsive web design is a characteristic of your site that means your web pages automatically adapt to different screen sizes. By incorporating responsive design, Google has stated that as of 2015 their algorithm ranks sites with responsive design higher. Why? Well, one reason is that the majority of web searches are taking place on mobile devices.
Did you know that Google actually penalizes you for “duplicate content” if you have a separate set of web pages for mobile devices? If your website uses .mobile or .mob to define some of your pages, then you do have this double coverage, and Google is ranking you lower for it.
If your site shows up with fonts that are readable on the smartphone without having to go through seven layers of hell to reposition the screen in a way that might give you the information you are looking for without skipping to another page or disappearing completely, that is an advantage. User frustration with your site will usually go unnoticed until someone is actually having a full-blown meltdown. Don’t wait for it to get that far! If you have noticed that your website frustrates you on a mobile device (or anywhere for that matter) then it’s time to make a change.
Did you know that with responsive design you can actually create content (photos, text, anything) that only shows up in certain screen sizes? It’s not only about changing the size of things. I have one client who has a different slide show depending on which browser you might be using (Safari or Explorer, or Chome, etc.). Another client has a images that only show up in larger versions of her calendar to save space on small screens where the photo is not as important as the events.
You can get what I call “cookie-cutter” style websites like those offered in basic WordPress packages, and if you design them correctly they can use a theme that has responsive design. If you have such a site that is not responsive, I can help. You can opt to either have the entire site recrafted in a personalized way that is not dependent upon the styles WordPress offers, or if you like the page layouts you already have in WordPress, it may be possible to adopt a responsive theme for far less than it would cost to redesign the whole site. Please call if you have any questions about any of my responsive design advice.
Henry Lyons is the owner of Finestkind Web Design in Dresden, Maine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through his website www.fineskindwebdesign.com.