The internet has been around for a while now. People can sit and argue about when the “modern” internet really took shape but it’s safe to say that it was in the mid to late nineties when it really started to take off and evolve into the ever-changing entity that it has become today. Back then, websites were relatively simple, designed using now antiquated techniques and methodologies to be viewed on the clunky CRT monitors that were sitting on our desks at the time. Since then, the world has come to embrace the advent of mobile computing, primarily in the form of cell phones, tablets and their offspring, the “phablet”.
Say it out loud, it’s kind of fun. Phablet.
Times are changing.
A recent report stated that, as of May 2014, upwards of 60% of all time spent by users on the internet was on a mobile device. As we all know, mobile devices have screen sizes that range from manageable to have-fun-fitting-it-in-your-pocket which, combined with the above statistic, presents the following dilemma for any business with a web presence: how do we deliver our site to all of these various devices while maintaining a good user experience? Ever been to a site that wasn’t optimized for the web? You’ll know it when you see it, or rather squint at it because the entire website is displayed at once on that small screen. Sure, you can pinch, poke or swipe your way to a zoomed in view but then you will have to reposition the site to read content that is off the screen, all the while trying not to accidently click a link in the process.
Companies started to somewhat solve the mobile dilemma by offering a mobile version of their site, usually denoted as m.yourewebsitehere.com. The issue with .m sites is that they’re separate from your main site, which means double the development time as well as the fact that all of your hard earned SEO success will not apply to both.
So is there a solution that solves the mobile dilemma while avoiding big drawbacks? The answer is a big yes, in the form of responsive design. The basic premise of a website built with responsive design is that it will adapt to whatever size screen you’re viewing it on, layouts will shift and various elements will resize but the overall user experience will remain the same.
You may be thinking “my website is doing just fine without being responsive”. The problem with that line of thought is that you need to add “for now” to the end of it. More and more, users are turning to mobile as their first choice for gaining information, particularly those in their 20’s or younger and if they end up on your unreadable site, chances are they’re going to go to your competitors site, which is responsive and highly usable. Guess who is going to get the business?
So, for the sake of your business, take the plunge and upgrade to responsive, your customers will appreciate it and best of all, they’ll tell others.