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Responsive Design - some thoughts about this key website ingredient.

Posted by Malcolm Iliff, on 26th February 2014

Effective websites, including of course those by CBJ Digital, are built using so-called Cascading Style Sheets.  Why CSS?  In the words of Wikipedia: CSS is designed … to enable the separation of document content from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts. This separation can improve content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics, enable multiple pages to share formatting, and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content.

What CSS allows is presentation to be suited to the particular size and orientation (i.e. landscape or portrait) of the screen of the device on which the visitor is viewing the website pages.  Thus, the layout of the page is automatically adjusted to suit a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone so that it is readable and navigable on all these devices with ease.  This is done automatically by the CSS software and is known as Responsive Design.  It is most effective when using tablets and mobile devices.  Traffic to some sites can be as much as 40% from mobile devices.

What are the advantages of responsive design

Do I need it for my website?

  • Although most mobile devices present standard web pages, they are often difficult to read, the font is too small and the pages require left-to-right scrolling to enable a full line to be read.  
  • Click-throughs using hyperlinks are difficult to use and are frustrating when they are so small.  Good responsive design overcomes these difficulties by re-organising the page and font sizes to ensure easy reading and navigation.  Hence, once the visitor finds your site, they are more likely to stay with it and use it.
  • ‘Mouse-over’ navigation (which does not work on many portable devices) can be replaced in a way that works with mobile devices.  Unnecessary graphics and/or other images and content on a small screen can be moved off altogether or simply put to the bottom of the page.
  • E-commerce elements in a website can be made far easier to use on mobile devices.  Responsive design leads to increased conversion rates and sales.
  • Touch sensitive phone numbers and addresses can be put into easy-to-find and easy to use positions on a mobile device – usually on the home page
  • Responsive design will probably increase your search engine ranking. It will allow you to track the effectiveness of your web marketing by device as well as other demographics and elements in the website-mix.

Importantly, you do not need to develop at significant cost a separate App or mobile application that require separate maintenance and which dilute your Search Engine Optimisation. Functionality is maintained and site-management costs reduced.

Responsive design is no longer an option for many new or re-built sites – particularly if you are directing your marketing to a younger generation of customers in the B to B or in B to C marketplace.  Yes, it is more expensive – but it is a question of assessing investment return.  For some sites, it is not so necessary; for others, we suggest, it is essential.

Please contact us to discuss your needs and any other questions you may have about developing a site that will really work for you. 

An example of one of our recently launched responsive sites can be found at www.gnlaw.co.uk.  

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