Ask Global Wire Associates: Responsive Design


I want to redesign my company website so it can be more modern.  It hasn’t be redesigned in five years, so I have a lot of catching up to do!  I want my website to be viewed on smartphones and iPads.  How do I go about building a mobile theme, and do I need a responsive theme?

–       Manuel Serrano, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Now more than ever it is important for all websites to be viewable on mobile devices.  As a matter of fact, approximately 17 percent global internet traffic comes from smartphones and tablets, and a great deal of that traffic is coming from the developing world.  Mobile traffic has more than doubled in South America since 2011, and Asia and Africa lead the world as the two continents with the most-mobile web users.  Whether you or a web designer is redesigning your website, those are very important facts to keep in mind.

Regarding mobile design, there is a difference between a mobile theme and a responsive theme.  A mobile theme is a completely separate site from your desktop version which is designed for specific mobile devices.  With a responsive theme, you would only have to design one site that automatically responds to the screen size regardless of whatever device being used.  Responsive design is currently the most popular and widely used method for building a mobile site.  We recommend considering a responsive theme over a mobile theme for the following reasons.

  1. Responsive design is cheaper – If you are on a budget and you are hiring a web designer to do the job, a responsive design is preferable because you would only need to code the theme appropriately with media queries so it would scale automatically with different screen sizes.  Mobile themes are only designed for specific devices, which can be daunting because there are so many devices on the market.  Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, iPad, Surface, Blackberry, Windows Phone etc… You get the drift.  Designing for specific devices is also time consuming and can get very expensive very quickly.
  2. Responsive design has a longer shelf life – Also with so many new and updated devices coming onto the market on a regular basis, a mobile theme would have to be updated regularly as well.  Again, this is time consuming and costly.  Responsive design is based on screen size, not device, which makes it low maintenance and future proof.
  3. Google loves responsive design – Responsive sites uses one URL address and the same HTML code, which makes it easier for Google Search to crawl and index your site correctly, as well as improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
  4. Social media users love responsive design – Social media is a big driver on the mobile web.  If you use Twitter or Facebook to share content on your website or blog, most likely that shared content is being viewed by a mobile user.  If that mobile user comes to a non-responsive website, that user will leave your site frustrated.  Responsive sites are easier to view on mobile devices.  With that said…
  5. Responsive websites load quicker – User experience is everything today, and if your website takes more than three seconds to load, mobile users will leave and not come back.

In today’s competitive economy, it is good business to have a responsive website.  In order to beat your competitors and maintain and attracting both old and new customers, responsive design presents your business online in the best light to the most people.

Got a question for us? Send it to info(at)globalwireonline(dot)org with “Ask Global Wire Associates” in the subject line.

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