How responsive web design can net you more customers


Date: 12 August 2013

More and more web traffic is coming via screens which are not attached to a traditional PC. If you want to keep abreast of the competition - and particularly if you depend on real visitors to your premises - you need to embrace mobile and tablet access.

There's a lot of buzz around mobile web access, and rightfully so. More and more potential customers are looking for products and services using their mobile phones.

If your web site is difficult to use on anything other than a standard computer screen then you won't be getting their business.

Local businesses need mobile sites

It matters even more if you operate a local business where you want people to visit your premises.

You might be running a shop, sandwich bar or cafe. But if someone looks up your business on their phone then they are far more likely to be in immediate buying mode than someone searching on a PC from home.

When they reach your website, it's important visitors can identify where your business is located and what you have to offer. If they can't do so quickly, they'll move to the next site on their screen.

Responsive web design

One way of doing this is through responsive web design. It's a technique that's been around since 2010 or so. It involves creating your website so it adapts to fit whatever size screen it appears on.

To show the difference between an old fashioned static site and a modern responsive website which changes depending on the size of screen, take a look at our short video:

In the first section you'll see a mock-up of our website which is completely non-responsive. As soon as the screen gets below a certain width things start to disappear off the side, making it difficult to see what's happening.

The second section of the film shows our live responsive website. As the browser narrows, a stepped change in presentation occurs. Elements are made smaller and stacked to fit on the available screen estate. They still look appealing and can be read easily.

You can see lots of other examples of responsive web design over on the Media Queries website, or visit our website and resize the browser window for yourself.

Making your website responsive

So, is it possible to change your existing site to be responsive? Well, not without some work, is the short answer.

However, adding responsive functions to a website isn't always easy, and it's hard to be confident the site works properly if it wasn't designed to be responsive from the start.

What's more, if your existing website is not responsive, it's likely old enough to be lacking in other areas. Maybe it's difficult to maintain, lacks social media functions or looks old fashioned.

All in all, that may mean it's good time to invest in a new site which is responsive, has a modern lightweight design, is goal driven (so it directs users towards buying or contacting you), includes more social interaction and makes it easy to post updates, blog posts or news articles.

As mobile internet use continues to grow (it's at 15% on my own site and still increasing), now is the time to take advantage of that traffic.

John Norton is owner of No Worry Web, a company that creates and manages small business web sites and social media presence for an all-inclusive monthly fee. Follow him on Twitter: @NoWorryWeb.

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