Future-proofing your web site

Monday, December 02, 2013 by Richard Howe

Responsive design might seem like the new kid on the block, the latest must-have for your site, but what if your clients don’t access your site on their mobile phones? What if your visitors use their desktop computer or laptop and are happy to continue doing so? Do you really need to bother about making your site responsive? Or is there something you’re missing?

Although your website might not have an obvious need for mobile support at the moment, there are nevertheless some advantages of responsive design which might be worth considering, particularly if you’re planning a design revamp or overhaul. Here are three areas to think about:

Screen sizes

It’s easy to think that responsive design is all about phones, but although they’re a good example of the way in which your website can be tailored to specific visitors, they’re certainly not the only screens to consider.

As well as phones, tablets and other hand-held devices, people will be increasingly accessing your site on a huge range of desktop and laptop computers, from the latest large desktop monitors with high screen resolution to their older, smaller, low-res counterparts. The beauty of responsive design is that it provides a seamless and customized experience for all these users simultaneously.

If your website was designed quite some time ago, you might find that viewing it on a new, large-screen desktop computer is somewhat disappointing. Because most websites were designed to a fixed width, to fit the screen sizes of the time, on a larger screen your site suddenly looks small and insignificant, with your content displayed in a narrow central column flanked by unused space on either side. 

In comparison to your competitors’ sites, it’s starting to look and feel a bit old-fashioned and jaded.

But obviously you want all your visitors to be able to see your site, even if they’re using an older, smaller screen. Perhaps that’s why you’ve kept it as it is, so that people with smaller screens can still see it. 

With responsive design, you don’t need to worry about this. Your content can flow in a way that will fit any screen size and resolution, so that nobody will be left with an inferior experience.

Time and cost-effectiveness

By designing responsively from the outset, any redesign work in future will be easier, quicker and cheaper. When new screen sizes and new devices come along, your site will be able to be tweaked to suit these new developments, rather than redesigning the whole site, and you’ll be able to keep up with future trends that much easier. Scaling up your site when you’re ready becomes a smaller and more manageable task. 

So despite costing more upfront, including responsive capability in your site at the outside is therefore a more time-effective and cost-effective solution to web design in the long run.

Future mobile use

As well as catering for future screen size and devices, there is of course the possibility that your site will attract more mobile users in the future than it is right now. There could be several reasons why your website is not being visited from many mobile devices at present, but one consideration is that if your current site is unusable for mobile visitors, they are likely to be put off and not return. 

So it’s possible, likely even, that having a responsive design will begin to attract more mobile usage and new business. There’s some truth to the thought that if something is there, people will use it. 

Make sure that you track your website analytics to see the impact of both your existing site on mobile users and your responsive design. You might be surprised by the results.

Conclusion

Having read the above, you hopefully now have some idea of why responsive design is important, regardless of your current mobile uptake. Providing an exceptional user experience for all screen sizes, creating a foundation for future up-scaling and encouraging new customers and business, it’s not just about phones. It’s about future-proofing your site.

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