Online marketers have spent the last year hotly discussing the virtues of Responsive Web Design. Generally the discussion centered on how great it is and how it helps marketers reach the exploding mobile internet user base. There are a few skeptics that still ask, is it going to fundamentally change anything and become an industry standard?
Well, the short answer to this question is “Yes.”
Responsive web design essentially means you don’t need separate websites for mobiles, tablets, desktops, and for other handheld internet devices. Regardless of the user’s device your content will be seen, albeit a bit differently by the user. The content will be seen without compromising the quality of user experience.
How does responsive web design work?
In a responsive web design all the elements of a webpage will have specific size and shape. Based on the size and width of the screen and the browser these elements will intelligently display themselves. For example there are nine elements on a particular website, what will happen when this website is viewed on a desktop or tablet (large screen) is that the elements will take a 3×3 grid formation. In case the display screen is wider but short on height, as in smartphones, the website elements will take 4×2 grid placement. If the screen size is even smaller, as in mobiles, the elements will stack one over the other. So in essence as the screen size decreases the elements of the website stack differently.
A website viewed on a mobile, smartphone, tablet, or a desktop will look different but carry all the content on it. The best thing about responsive website design is that it can be optimized for mobiles, smartphones, tablets, and laptops/desktops all at once.
How does it help SEO?
Well, it drastically cuts down your maintenance costs. Now you no longer need two separate websites for different platforms, nor do you have to redirect traffic to a platform specific web address. One site is all you need.
For example you have a website for normal screens (desktops/laptops/tablets). A user types in a search term relevant to your website and its content. Google directs the user to your website and if your site is not optimized for viewing on small screens, the customer will immediately leave the site and return to search results. Now Google will make a note of this behavior and the next time another customer/user types the same search term, he or she will be directed to another site. This effectively means your bounce rate will rise and that is BAD NEWS for a website owner. However, if you have a responsive website design, regardless of the user’s screen size he/she will have the same experience and your bounce rate will not suffer.
Maintaining and managing content for mobile and normal sites requires manpower, and manpower costs money. With responsive web design you don’t have to bother about content management or website management and you need less people to manage.
Rankings could take a hit if you don’t have websites for smaller screens. Although your site will be ranked higher for normal screen sizes the same won’t apply if someone is searching on small mobile and smartphone screens.
With responsive web design all your links to your main site also are links to your mobile sites. For example you have significant amount of back links to your normal site and you also have a responsive web design. What happens now is that, as there is less competition for mobile sites, the links to your normal site boosts your website on small screens. Automatically your website profile goes up when viewed or searched on smaller screens.
These advantages conclusively prove that responsive web design is the next big thing in web development.