Responsive Web Design: Let your customers access your website from anywhere using anything
Broadband coverage is getting better, speed is improving [rapidly so as superfast 4G rolls out across the UK], and smartphones and tablet devices are getting “smarter” and easier to use. The growth in sales of smartphones and tablets is huge, and more and more people use these devices to browse the Internet, check email, use social media, read books, watch TV or be entertained in some shape or form. In addition, more and more businesses are creating apps that provide an even more inter-active experience for regular smartphone/tablet user visitors.
Internet users can now access the Internet from anywhere, using anything. Before long it will be the norm to store all your files in the cloud and just use whichever device is convenient to you to access the Internet or to work from at any given time. In the office, this will be a desktop computer, and whilst out and about or travelling, it’ll be a combination of a tablet device and a smartphone. Even at home, couples don’t talk to each other as much now, they sit side by side accessing the Internet in some shape or form.
There might still be hard times ahead, but people are still going to buy everything they need, and will continue to buy everything they’ve got used to having. That’s human nature. The only difference is that they’ll have less time to devote to shopping and will want to find what they want quicker and pay the lowest price. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you are going to miss out on customers.
And let me also just clear up one other huge misconception! Tablet users and smartphone users are not just the well to do folk with leisure time on their hands! Anyone who works in the field, onsite, or who just travels will should be using them to make their life easier. For example, take a tradesman who, armed with a tablet device or smartphone can access the local builders merchant website, search through their stock and order what he wants there and then, or call them if he has a query about delivery. In the past he’d cost himself an extra day by having to go home and deal with the order in the evening, and then phone them in the morning. People search for things online now. You can find what you want in minutes and order it seconds later. Job done.
I am not saying all this is healthy, but the cork is already out of the bottle. It’s just how things are and how they are going to be. You really can’t ignore it.
So, how does this affect you and what do you need to do about it?
Until now it has been sufficient to design a website that’s best viewed on a desktop computer and which works across all browsers [Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome etc]. When viewed on a tablet device [ie iPad] or smartphone [ie iPhone or Blackberry], these kind of sites just looks like smaller versions with exactly the same navigation style. On a smartphone, this often still makes it unusable. The huge increase in mobile browsing means that it is absolutely vital that a site can be properly viewed and used via any device, be it desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Your website has to be capable of handling traffic from all these devices.
You remember the frenzy around Facebook when it went public? Adverts were unusable on a mobile, and so some bright spark [or probably lots of them] got round this problem by creating Responsive Web Design [RWD], which is designed and coded so that it recognises which type of device is viewing it, and it restructures the navigation and page content to the best optimum for that specific device, for example by putting the navigation as a list underneath the page content on a mobile, whilst being across the top in conventional style for a desktop computer.
From a few hundred sites around the world, this has grown in a matter of months to being the buzz phrase of the Internet and now hundreds of sites are launched using RWD every day. Whilst for most businesses, creating a new “normal” website that was NOT a RWD, would be a big improvement which would enable them to significantly improve their presence, down the road everyone need a Responsive Web Design, and it isn’t just a case of “adding it on” at a later date as the site is built differently and has to be individually coded for each type of device. It is also something that can only be entrusted to a seriously competent web designer, so it is a more expensive exercise.
A Responsive Web Design can easily be incorporated into our cloud hosted web platform, and you’ll easily be able to manage your own website content.
I thought I had just better say, don’t confuse RWD with an app! I have read of instances where a business owner has been unhappy as he thought he was getting an inter-active app created from scratch for a few thousand pounds. Apps can cost serious money to develop and at present are really only commissioned by larger businesses, or innovative ones who use them as an integral part of their marketing and customer experience, and are usually aimed at businesses with a strong repeat customer base. You’ll see more and more of them in the future though.
An app can be created from scratch just for you, or there are an increasing number of templated apps for different industries that can then be adapted and styled for you. At present, the cost of developing apps is a bit like the old days of web design. At one end of the spectrum you have the young kid in his bedroom with a flair for doing it, who’ll do it for peanuts. However, he then can’t support it. It’s your business and when something needs upgrading, he’s now off doing other things. On the other hand, you have some agencies who are making a killing designing some pretty average apps for a lot of money. In the middle, you have experienced agencies who have now produced quite a number of apps for businesses, they know the corners you can’t cut and those you can, they know the questions to ask you about how functions will work, and they deliver a quality looking item. They also know the value of the work they are doing and don’t come cheap. This might not be for you right now, but it is undoubtedly something you’ll want to look at in the future.
For more information, call us on 01526 352919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.November 28, 2012 12:00 am