“Responsive” is probably a term you’ve heard thrown around quite a bit when it comes to website design. While you’ve most likely heard it, are you actually familiar with what it means for a website to be responsive? Are there certain boxes a responsive website has to check off or is responsiveness a sliding scale? Below, we’re going to explain what responsive website design is and why websites should implement it today.
It’s About the User Experience
Responsive website design is all about the user experience, no matter the user, and what device they’re viewing a website from. When your website is responsive, you’ve done everything in your power to make it efficient, legible, and easily navigable. When it can be described by the attributes above, it’s also likely to have been well-designed and built.
The Characteristics of a Responsive Design
It Looks Great on All Devices
A responsive website will work well no matter what device a user is on. From a desktop computer to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, a business’s website should function correctly and size itself to fit each screen accordingly. Mobile responsiveness is a huge deal, and professional websites should have this feature. More than half of all web searches are taking place via smartphones today, so naturally, this is something you’ll want yours to have.
You Can Navigate With a Mouse or by Touch
In addition to the above, websites should be designed so people can easily navigate pages and buttons when using a mouse, as well as a touch screen. With smaller phone screens, it can be difficult to click certain navigations and buttons if they’re not created with a mobile user in mind. Be sure that your website’s navigation and buttons are clear and resize correctly on all devices.
Download Speeds are Fast
There are many existing websites today that get bogged down with features that can make them take forever to load. This is definitely something that detracts from a positive user experience and drives potential clients away. In a world driven by instant gratification, a slow website could be doing a great deal of damage. Be sure to check your website on a number of different browsers to see how quickly it loads on each one. In addition to doing this, there are a number of free resources you can use to track the speed of your website in order to see if it’s in good shape when it comes to downloading speed.
What’s the Difference Between Responsive and Adaptive?
While both of these descriptors have stemmed from the same idea — that websites are being viewed on devices other than a computer — responsive and adaptive websites are not the same thing. To give a brief and very simplified explanation…
An adaptive website’s format will change when specific points have been reached. Taking the dimensions of commonly used screens into consideration, an adaptive website can be built to match the size of the most popular iPhones today. If someone views this adaptive site on an older device, though, it may not match up correctly, due to the fact it wasn’t built for that screen’s dimensions.
A responsive website, on the other hand, can continually change to fit each unique screen it’s viewed on. It’s a site with much more movement, commonly described as “flexible” and “fluid.” Responsive websites have longevity because they’ll format themselves correctly even when new devices hit the market.
Responsive and adaptive websites are built in different ways. While what you choose ultimately depends on your needs, responsive websites are oriented for the future.