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What's responsiveness and why does it matter?

A website that can be viewed by anyone, anywhere, is increasingly important in our mobile generation – so today we’re talking all about responsiveness and trying to take you from A to B-eyond doubt.

What's responsiveness and why does it matter? image

Hello, it’s another Zarte blog.

Yes, don’t worry, I’d be bored with me too. But bear with me, because what we’re talking about today might be just what you need to take your website up to the next level!

If you even vaguely follow web tech buzzwords presently, you’ll probably have heard something at some point about responsiveness. If you haven’t, then you’re more and more likely to hear about it as time goes on. Why? Because for your website, responsiveness is becoming increasingly important by the day. If your website is an important part of your business, you’ll need to get in line with it. These are the three big questions – and answers.

What is responsiveness?

It may well sound obvious, but responsiveness is how well your website responds to usage. In the old days, that just meant “Will the website load properly?”, but these days there’s much more to it than that. Specifically, now, it tends to refer to the cross-platform usability of your website. In other words – is your website visible and usable no matter on what device and with which web browser I’m viewing it? Different platforms have different capabilities, and so what might be the most beautiful design in history on a traditional computer, could be completely and utterly impossible to navigate on a mobile phone. We’re not just talking aesthetics (although those are important) – we’re talking about whether or not your customer can see your website properly and do everything that a normal customer can do, from their device.

Why is this important?

A lot of people think that this is an irrelevance. I mean after all, people would do most of their buying from a computer, right? Well – yes and no. It’s correct to say that people who make an actual purchase, still tend to do so from a PC, but it isn’t just whether you’re set up to make a sale that matters. A recent study, analysing Internet users’ typical usage, found that as it stand almost two-thirds of their browsing is done through a mobile phone or other mobile device, such as a tablet. You may not be losing sales directly but if your potential customer is searching around for a product and can’t use your website on the go, they’ll go to a competitor, whose website did work on their mobile, when they’re ready to make that purchase. Can you really afford to potentially lose over 60% of custom just by trying to avoid something that you’ll essentially have to do anyway when your standard website needs bringing up to date? Let me give you an example. On a standard website, when viewed on a computer, there will often be a horizontal bar with all the navigational links for that website. However, the vast majority of mobile browsing is done in portrait. Combined with the smaller screen this makes such a layout completely impractical. At best the size would reduce and leave miniscule buttons, at worst the whole thing begins to layer over itself in some hideous arrangement. The easiest, most practical way to overcome this is to have some sort of menu button, which fills the screen with clickable options when touched, but vanishes once one is selected, thus removing a hurdle for the customer – just as we spoke about in our last blog: How to convert visitors: Make your website easy!.

Another hurdle to think about removing is image load times. Modern tablets and mobiles have a higher resolution screen than most computers, so your website’s images need to be available in a higher resolution format. This is fine for desktop computers, which would just show the images less sharply, but high resolution images can mean a large download for a mobile device, which might also impact on the visitor’s data allowance. It’s certainly worth thinking about.

How do I make my website more responsive?

Well really this is a question that we can’t answer without looking at your website specifically. In some cases you may have had the same website for so long that to turn your content into a mobile-friendly format would be nigh on impossible. In that case, being honest about it, it may be time to think about a new website. However, in many cases, a bit of work and a little expense could take what was always a good looking website on a computer and turn it into something to be proud of on any device. The key, in our opinion, is to make sure that even if you need to strip back some elements from your main website, the user experience should be consistent. That way you can be seen to be professional and up-to-date at all times.

I hope this helps and, as ever, please feel free to call us or send us an e-mail if you have any questions arising from any of our blog articles. Whilst we can comment on best practice, we understand, and indeed pride ourselves on understanding, that all businesses are different and what may work for us, might not work as well for you.

This will be the last post about websites for a little while, but there will be more to come on other subjects that we think we might be able to help you with.

Take care!

Zarte