What does responsive mean?

In an nutshell, a responsive site means that your site will work on a wide variety of devices – from small smartphone screens to the largest monitors. There are a wide variety of techniques to achieve this, but this can all be summed up under the term ‘responsive’.

Why does this matter?

Today’s site visitor will come to your site using a whole range of technologies and devices. It’s the same in any walk of life – first impressions count. If the first impression that your visitor gets is of a site that works poorly for them, chances are that visitor will not be back.

‘Visitor’ doesn’t just mean people. Search engines, such as Google, will visit your site and index it how they see it, not how you hope they will see it. Google is even planning to introduce ‘mobile-first’ indexing, so if your site performs poorly for mobiles, it’s going to seriously affect your search engine rankings.

What should a responsive site do?

A good responsive site is not just one that happens to work across devices. Thought should be put in to how the site will work from early on in the planning stage – everything from the structure of the site, its navigation elements, even how much content to allow for each page. A well thought-out responsive site will be accessible to a wide range of visitors (including those using assistive technologies such as screen readers) with a view to optimising the experience for everyone.

Updating an existing site vs. a fresh design

If you have an existing non-responsive website (or design), should you start from scratch? In an ideal world, it would be best to design a site from the start with multiple devices in mind. However, it’s entirely possible to rework an existing site to work responsively, or to implement a ‘static’ design to work across multiple devices.

Adjusting an existing design is likely to bring up useful questions on what elements your site really needs, so could be seen as an opportunity to refresh the thinking on what the site does for you.

Don’t stop there

Once you’ve got your new whizz-bang responsive site up and running, don’t just assume that everything’s perfect. A new responsive site should be your opportunity to see what works for you and your visitors. Don’t be afraid to look again at the site and adjust things. A site owner that listens to their visitors and takes feedback on board is only going to make the site experience better for all visitors.

If you want to discuss how a responsive design could help you, please get in touch