Responsive Web Design Ensures Your Site Looks Good On All Devices
Boiled down to its simplest definition, that’s all it is. The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re probably either already involved in a web design project now or you’re considering one in the near future – either way, you’re researching the process, which is a very good sign for your website’s future! Your designer has most likely been talking about this “responsive web design” thing that seems really important. But, it’s not really making a lot of sense, probably because they’re using terms that only designers understand, so I’m going to try to put this in everyday terms.
The single biggest reason that every website owner should understand responsive web design is because they – the website owner(s) – are most likely going to be the only constant factor in the life of their website. Designers may come and go. Web hosting companies may come and go. Services may change. But the site owner will be there the whole time.
So, what is responsive web design & why should a website owner care?
Put simply, responsive web design is making sure that a website’s display will adapt to the screen size of any device that it’s viewed on.
Think of non-responsive design (called fixed layout web design) like viewing a painting hanging on a wall through a telescope you make with one of your hands, just like you did as a kid. When you’re away & you can see a lot of the wall around the picture, but as you get closer you see less of the wall & more of the painting. Closer still & you only see a very small portion of the painting through the viewport of your hand-telescope because, obviously, the painting doesn’t resize itself to accommodate the smaller display.
Fixed layout design acts the same & as display sizes become smaller, you may need to scroll left & right to see the entire content or, worse still, the entire design shrinks & becomes illegible because the text is tiny.
You’ve seen websites that have columns on a desktop or laptop but they’re stacked on top of each other on a mobile phone or tablet. That’s probably the easiest example of responsive web design – just ensuring that everything is visible on the screen without scrolling left to right or pinch-zooming. Since about 2015, Google has been ranking sites that are mobile-friendly higher in search results than sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. On average, it seems that about half of websites’ traffic nowadays come from mobile devices so it’s the smart thing to do anyway to have a mobile-responsive website.
But All A Website Owner Wants Is Affordable Web Development
While our own agency has taken a modular approach to bring down the total investment for website owners, especially new website owner, the expression, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a good price,” comes to mind here. In web design, especially, we get what we pay for. In most cases, if a site owner wants their website to succeed in the long run, it really is imperative that they invest in it.
Website owners find very quickly as they become more involved in their website’s operations that the really talented designers (they’re called full stack developers) who understand all aspects of web design & development & can act as a one-stop shop cost a bit more but they provide far better continuity for the site owner.
One of the first things that people do when they realize that they need a website is to use a DIY platform that’s either free or almost free but what they realize very quickly is one of two things (or both):
- Web design really is an art. It takes a trained eye, and some real technical know-how to get it just right.
- The free/cheap platform has limitations that can’t be overcome without either picking a much more expensive plan or switching to something different altogether.
Savvy web designers know this, and will develop a process that allows them to build superior websites much more quickly than even the free DIY platforms. Since they intend to be in business for a long time, they need to focus on client happiness. It means that they will have a system in place to ensure that the overall web design for all of their clients will be responsive by default. This will ensure that the design integrity is intact on all devices, and they may even have it set up where it’s easier for the website owner to add to their website while preserving the responsive nature of the website intact.
Should You Consider SEO in Your Web Design?
Without question, 100%, every page, post, product, and category should begin with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind during your website’s life, from the very first construction throughout the life of the website. It used to be that your webmaster could just stuff keywords into your website’s meta description in order to rank your site incredibly easily for whatever word or phrase you wanted to rank it for. The search engines wised up to the fact that this led to a frustrating experience for people searching for specific things & having largely irrelevant search results returned, so they started implementing smarter search algorithms to focus on more relevant search results. Currently, the primary focus is on locally relevant search results with the overall focus being that the search engines, primarily Google, want to return search results that are useful to people.
So what does all of that mean for SEO in web design these days?
Content is king & if your content is useful to your audience it will start to rank higher as a result of other sites linking to it. If your content is useful, people will spend time on that particular page or post, rather than looking at it for a second, and then leaving. It means we all need to work at producing quality content, rather than a larger quantity of content.
Should You Hire Someone for a Custom Web Design Service or Custom Web Development?
Today’s industry-wide approach to dynamic web design and plug & play technology using apps and plugins for specific functionality has made it more feasible for pretty much anyone to create a good looking website that’s pretty easy to update. That said, we’ve found over the years that people are emotionally attached to how their site looks, very much like one would be with their own home. Sometimes, the need for even minor code tweaks on the website paralyzes a significant portion of people. So, if you fall into either of these categories, I would say that you should probably look at hiring a professional for custom web design & development.
However, if you’re a fairly web-savvy individual with enough time on your hands to learn how to construct and manage an awesome website, then you could probably consider doing it yourself. If we look strictly at the versatility of the platform used, then self-hosted WordPress wins every time. With the open source nature of the platform and the global community surrounding WordPress, the things that you can do with your site are almost endless.
Want to start up an eCommerce site? You can have it up and running in a day or so. Want to have your orders printed automatically on a specific printer for fulfillment? You can do that, too. Want to create a membership auction site that has dynamically generated coupons for product listings from your collection of 1980’s scrunchies? No problem.
The best thing about doing all of this on a WordPress is that for the most part, any of the special functions that your site might need can usually be achieved with a one-time purchase instead of a monthly subscription. Our own website design listing includes any of the premium plugins that we’re licensed to use on our client sites. There are a number of website designers & developers that will do that, but others will want to charge for the premium plugin, especially if they only purchase licenses based on the project rather than for expected growth.
Speaking of planning for growth, our own version of SaaS web design (software as a service web design) takes our web design listing and dramatically lowers the initial investment (currently under $100 per month). It offers much, much greater flexibility to the website owner. This is a trend that’s been on the rise in recent years, so you should be able to find other designers that offer some version of SaaS web design or another to compare services. Our own focus on this has been the same as our company philosophy on pretty much every product we offer, which is simply this:
You’re the expert on what you do, and you’re the idea person for what you’re hoping to achieve. We’re the technical and design experts that you can use as a sounding board & sanity check. We know what works and we know what you should run away from, even though you might initially really like the idea of a website loaded with GIFs & a brand that uses Comic Sans. Pairing the owner’s vision with our expertise and working as partners is about as close to a guaranteed successful outcome as you can get.
Our SaaS web design listing, which we call the Total Website Solution, is incredibly flexible and allows the website owner to request minor updates that they need for website course correction as a part of their service at no extra charge. We don’t source content for these websites, currently, because of the emotional attachment that I mentioned earlier. There is a very low likelihood that a content author will see things the same way as the website owner, but we will definitely place and style your content for you as a part of this service. Need code changes or to add to your back end functionality? No problem.
So why did I get into all of that when this was about responsive web design?
Because it’s all connected. It should all be considered and planned out when you’re putting together a website – I hope you’ve found this useful & please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!