Inconsistent window widths have been the scourge of website design in the past and the issue is becoming more prevalent with the increasing use of new devices such as smartphones and tablets.
So how can you ensure that your website renders right and in doing so improves the browsing experience for visitors to your site? The answer is Responsive Web Design.
An increasing number of people are using mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and mobile PCs, to access the Internet (see Figures 1 and 2 below). Just look around you and you'll see people in the street, on the bus and in restaurants staring at their device screens. And this has resulted in an increased chance of a poor browsing experience and frustration when a site being accessed has 'retracted' to fit on smaller screens leading to resizing and zooming just to view the content.
Figure 1 - Average mobile share of website traffic January - December 2013. Source: Intelligent Positioning
Figure 2 - source: Walker Sands Digital
So it's becoming increasingly vital that your website is mobile friendly to ensure the best possible experience. After all, you have only 2-3 seconds to make the right impression or you'll lose the visitor forever. Some businesses have developed two websites - one designed for desktop users and then a version specifically for mobile users.
However, there is a solution that caters for all types of user in one solution - Responsive Web Design (RWD). Indeed, RWD takes 'mobile friendly' one step further and into the realms of 'device friendly'. RWD is not a new phenomenon and has been around for some years now. However it is obvious that not everyone is paying attention to the importance of RWD and take-up has been slow. This needs to change. One of the core benefits of RWD is that web guardians can be confident that 'browser dependent content' will render appropriately across multiple devices and that visitors will be presented with an optimised view. By this we mean easy reading, navigation and interaction with the website with a minimum of resizing and panning, although when implemented properly RWD will ensure that even this is unnecessary.
But this is not the only reason why RWD is becoming increasingly important. Recommended by Google In 2013 Google claimed 67% search market share making it a big deal. So when Google's Pierre Farr confirmed in June 2012 that it prefers RWD then we all need to sit up and take note. Why does Google prefer RWD? There are many reasons but one of the most important is that it's more efficient for its robots to 'bot crawl' just one site (rather than the two versions mentioned previously) with just one URL (web address). Social media ComScore states in a study that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device.
So what's the point in sharing web content via social media if it's not compatible with mobile devices? Plus social media is becoming increasingly important to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and achieving the best possible search results. Better and more intuitive user experience With the need for zooming and shrinking negated due to the content being automatically adjusted to the screen size being used to access web content, this leads to a better experience for the visitor. And a satisfied visitor, who feels that the company concerned cares by ensuring their experience is the best it can be, is less likely to go elsewhere. And this can only improve your chances of engagement.
In addition, if content is device optimised then this increases the likelihood of conversion into sales in a retail environment, or an enquiry in a B2B situation. Bounce rates In website terms bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors entering a website who then 'bounce' i.e. leave the site, without continuing to view other pages within the same site.
According to an article by Mashable in November 2013: "An average bounce rate is about 50% meaning that about half of people who land on your website pages leave and don't come back." So imagine you're using Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site. You could be wasting up to 50% of your traffic and therefore budget and with utilising RWD proven to significantly decrease bounce rate, can you afford not to implement it?
While we've only touched on the subject of RWD in this article we'd like to leave you with one more thought. If you're not deploying RWD then you can bet your life that your competitors are and they could be taking your potential customers away from you.