If the term “responsive web design” is new to you, don’t feel bad, I promise you’re in the majority. In about 20 seconds you’ll know what it is and be able to look smart by talking about responsive design at dinner parties. The Responsive web design is simply this–a website design that adjusts gracefully to fit on a desktop, tablet, and smartphone browsers. Ever pull up a website on your smartphone and it was just a very tiny version of what you would see on your desktop, so you zoomed way in, and then moved the website around and enlarged and shrunk it as needed to read text and click on things? That was not a responsive website. Or if it was, it left out the key point of adjusting “gracefully.” A responsive website looks good no matter whether you’re looking at it on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.
Considering that 2013 was first proclaimed as the year of the responsive web designs, you might wonder if you’re too late. No, you’re not, because in all likelihood all your competitors are late to the game as well. 2013 turned out to be the year when cutting edge companies in online marketing and web design got their acts together when it comes to responsive design. Businesses lag behind the cutting edge by at least a year when it comes to such things, and smaller businesses lagging almost two years behind the cutting edge. You've been safe for the time being, but now your competitors are figuring things out.
Because it’s better, cleaner and cooler and very soon some of your competitors will jump on the band wagon.
To illustrate why responsiveness is better, I've taken the stats from an anonymous website that is widely representative of many others. If you use a tool like Google Analytics on your website you can look at these same stats and gauge how urgent the matter is for your company.
This pie chart on the right shows the percentages for visitors coming using mobile, tablet, and desktop devices for the past 12 months. You can view this pie chart for your own website by first selecting the past 12 months for your date range, and then on the left navigating to Audience > Mobile > Overview in Google Analytic. On the lower right you’ll see a small pie chart button. Push that, and you’ll see a chart like this one.
In this case the website receives almost 40% of its traffic from mobile devices. Given that this website is not responsive, nor has a mobile version, that’s a hefty chunk of visitors who are receiving a sub-optimal experience.
In theory, it is more expensive than a non-responsive design. Reasons being that it takes more planning to do a responsive design, that certain design elements need to be adapted for multiple views and that testing the site takes longer as it has to be viewed on multiple hardware devices. And unless you have done a redesign in the last year chances are that you will need a complete overhaul of your design.
In order to contain your budget, look for companies that are specialized in responsive web designs, that have overhauled a big chunk of their customers already, or are in the process of doing so and are prepared to work for a fixed monthly or yearly budget. Start with porting your current content to the new design and figure out later what new and appealing content you can add to your redesign. That will save you a lot of time in planning, as the job will be limited to do a new design and porting your existing content to the new design.
Use a Content Management System that is expandable and where you can add content easily yourselves or have someone doing it for you at a fixed monthly cost.
Budget wise you are looking at around $3,000 for a complete overhaul to a responsive design. If you are more constrained in the budget, consider doing an overhaul for your home page only for starters and do the rest of the content at a later stage. That will take out roughly half of the cost of your responsive website.
No matter how small or big your business is, if you are counting on your website to give you new leads and new business, jump to the responsive web design right now. Ask yourselves the hard question, can I afford to not do it, and should I cut some of my traditional ways of marketing my business and spent time and energy on getting visibility and credibility on the Internet instead.