Responsive design: one great user experience, all devices
There’s no denying that we currently live in a world that’s uber-connected. I can’t remember the last time I left my house without my cellphone and I get most of my news online or via Twitter. When I’m visiting a new city and considering eating at a certain restaurant, I try to view their menu on my phone – if what comes up isn’t mobile friendly, I may decide to eat elsewhere. An increasing number of people are doing the same – and searching for movies, coffee houses, Star Wars action figures – you name it. The point is, from a marketing standpoint, the mobile web space offers a new and rapidly expanding medium for reaching existing and potential customers. If you’re a business, your website can no longer exist in only one place, responsive design is a must.
To get the inside scoop on the cutting-edge happenings of the mobile web, I spoke to Carman Pirie (@pirie), a marketing strategist and Principal of Kula Partners, a marketing agency based in Halifax. Kula Partners builds standards-based websites for their clients, based on responsive design.
Essentially, Kula Partners operates under the fundamental recognition that people are no longer only interacting with the world via their desktop computer – and businesses need to make sure their websites reflect this reality. Responsive design allows businesses to create a web experience based on how the web works right now – websites that respond dynamically to a user’s browsing environment, whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. No matter the device, a screen-optimized version of the site appears – without the cost and complexity of native apps or a separate mobile site.
According to Pirie, the fluidity of responsive design is actually an example of the mindset that businesses would be wise to adopt in today’s ever-changing world – starting with making digital literacy a priority.
“Perhaps Shawshank Redemption captured it best: ‘Get busy living or get busy dying.’ Being digitally literate as a business – having a digitally literate team – helps to give a business the capacity to imagine what’s next, the ability to align that vision with a realistic view of the technology required to enable it, and the talent to make it all a reality.”
Pirie says that with an open mind, businesses can evolve along with technology – by spending time considering the impact said technology will have on their business. One such way to do this is to embrace the power of the mobile Web space – it’s good for customer experience and in turn, great for business.
Advantages of responsive design
So what advantages does a website featuring responsive design offer businesses? Pirie offers these main three:
Responsive design delivers unmatched consistency of brand and user experience across today’s wide array of available platforms, browsers and devices—and it delivers it all via the web without any unnecessary diversions into an app store.
Creating a responsively designed website is considerably less expensive than creating the collection of websites, mobile sites and mobile apps that would be required to provide similar cross-platform, device-agnostic functionality.
It’s one thing to build a site, it’s quite another to commit to the ongoing care and feeding required to keep a web presence fresh. With responsive design, a single site update is automatically reflected to all users, meaning content updates couldn’t be easier to perform. Moreover, with responsive design, resources can actually be spent on creating meaningful content that gets results rather than just running on the hamster wheel of continuously having to fund the development of new app versions to keep up with the release schedule of new phones and operating systems.
Increasingly, our various electronic devices have entrenched themselves in the way we go about our daily lives. By choosing to make their sites available to their customers no matter where they are or what they’re doing, businesses will remain relevant and competitive. And that bodes well for my being able to find a good vegetarian restaurant wherever I go.
To learn more about responsive design, check out this Globe and Mail article: “Responsive design: one size fits all“.