Keeping it Simple with Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web design—the creation of Web content that works across platforms and formats, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs—has become something of a buzzword on the Internet lately, and with good reason: the mobile Web’s becoming an indispensable commodity.
Ninety-one percent of all Americans (as of 2013) own a cell phone; 55% own a smartphone; and sixty-three percent use a mobile device to access the Internet every day. Total mobile devices outnumbered humans on the entire planet in 2013, and the experts at Cisco predict there will be 1.4 devices per person by 2017, generating nearly sixteen exabytes of traffic every month by 2018.
The underlying concept driving responsive design is known as progressive enhancement. A phrase coined by Internet entrepreneur Steve Champeon back in 2003, progressive enhancement (or PE, as it is commonly known) is based on the idea that designs should be built from the ground up to accommodate the least capable platform on which they’ll be seen or used, and then subject to review and refinement in order to fit the needs of more powerful platforms. PE dictates that the first, and primary, design for your site should be optimized for mobile users; any bells and whistles that make the site more immersive for those visiting on a PC are tacked on later. This not only saves time and effort for the designers, site owners, and users, but makes the most of the mobile explosion and its enormous potential for conversion.
Making responsive design a part of your site is probably easier than you think. Incorporating small changes in your site’s design (or making small changes to your existing one) can go a long way. For example, compared to their traditional counterparts, fluid grids and flexible images allow for truly on-the-fly resizing of content—regardless of screen size or platform—by scaling based on proportions, rather than absolute dimensions.
Given that 96% of consumers have had run-ins with sites that are mobile-unfriendly, and 75% say they prefer a site that’s designed for mobile access, making your site more responsive may be one of the best ways to ensure that today’s visitors become tomorrow’s clients.
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