Are there several ways to build “optimised” sites?
In terms of what’s “right” for your site, the answer will be driven by what you’re about, what you offer and how you sell. But it’s hardly controversial to say a front-runner has emerged that meets all of the challenges and opportunities of mobile optimisation: Responsive Web Design.
Responsive Web Design?
Yes. Also known as RWD. It’s the method that Google have hung their hat on, and they would know. In our experience it’s the preferred approach too, for the practical benefits it delivers to clients, ticking all of the proverbial boxes. It’s called Responsive because the layout and content responds to the screen size it’s viewed on. We’ve illustrated that here…
A Responsive Web Design (RWD) site automatically reflows the layout according to the screen size.
Instead of seeing the whole website in miniature (dreadful), or worse, a magnified section of it (somebody, shoot me), the content is reflowed as the size and shape of the screen changes. So as a browser window gets smaller or bigger, blocks of copy will fold down from three to two to a single column. Images will be resized too, and other supplementary content can be moved to the bottom or taken out altogether… depending on where or whether you want to show it. If any pinching or zooming is required, or it loads slowly, it’s a duff job.
What are the advantages of adopting RWD?
Aside from the obvious – that the site renders perfectly, automatically, on any device – the principle advantages of RWD stem from the single URL. As opposed to other options out there, RWD means zero duplication of cost or effort:
- You only have to maintain a single set of designs and content – no need to sustain a separate “mobile-only” version.
- All searches for your content will rank against your single URL – great for SEO and just how Google likes it too.
- Your Google Analytics will deliver consolidated reports for both page visits and social media stats.
- No server-side components are required – design changes are made by modifying the CSS, and content changes are controlled by a single content management system – ie. you can do it yourself, if you fancy it.
- New sizes and shapes of tablets are coming to market all the time – we now have iPad minis and the rest to deal with – not to mention the advent of web TV, which means screen size will grow too. The good news? RWD takes all of this in its stride. Consider yourself future-proofed!
We use it because it delivers.
It’s also a lot of fun. This site is built using Responsive. To to see it in action, why not have a play right here and now. Our homepage probably best illustrates how it all works together. If you’re on a desktop or laptop, pick up the browser corner with your mouse and adjust the width, right to left. Watch how the content collapses, re-orders, folds down to the bottom and sometimes even disappears.
If you’re on a tablet or smartphone, switch from portrait to landscape and back again, see how it adapts and reflows. Pretty cool isn’t it… (well, we think so anyway). And while RWD is enabled by the technology, the execution of a responsive site demands a new way of thinking, when it comes to web development. We invested a whole lot of time into learning different mobile techniques, so we hope it’s paid off.
Who else uses RWD?
In believing that RWD is the best way to tackle the need to go mobile, we’re part of a broad church. Notably, the BBC, the Guardian and the UK Government all recently started production of Responsive websites. As did Metro late in 2012. There are plenty of other great Responsive stories – check out some examples here.
Is RWD right for your website?
Just as it is for all our customers, yours will be a unique requirement. We’ll consult with you and tailor an approach that fits, depending on the specific marketing objectives, your typical customer journeys and interactions, the current site stats and of course your budget. It’s horses for courses. (Then there’s the understandable “Can’t we build an App” argument; while they certainly have their place in the mix, it’s another conversation altogether).
In a nutshell…
If you haven’t been thinking about mobile to date, maybe now’s the time. As a site or business owner, you owe it to yourself to deliver a site that users can use, and enjoy, with minimum hassle. Not bothering to do this makes life difficult, and risks alienating tons of potential custom.
Mobile-optimised websites are goal-focused; they deliver conversions by channeling visitors to respond appropriately. So our role is to structure content and craft designs so your users find the things they want – quickly – and then take the actions that you’d like them to. In that respect RWD delivers an outstanding customer experience. And all of that’s great for business.
Ready to dive into mobile? Find out how you can – today.