Responsive web design is an increasingly essential aspect of web design. The spread of mobile and other devices has meant that web designers have had to take steps to ensure their designs are adaptable, that they look good and function well on variety of different devices. Before the rise of responsive web design, designers predominately created separate websites for desktop and mobile devices. Traditionally, desktops have been the dominant device used to access the internet, with 89.12% of all web traffic coming through desktops in 2012. However, research published by Statista shows that mobile traffic has increased rapidly in recent years. Since 2017, mobile devices have consistently hovered around 50%, and in the second half of 2022 accounted for 58.99% of global web traffic.
Given the abundance of web devices that now exist, and of the likelihood of new devices emerging in the future, web designers face difficult challenges in ensuring that their designs are flexible and adaptable to changes in user behaviour. This article will explore the importance of responsive website design. Why is responsive design so important for businesses and organisations to consider when designing or redesigning their website? I will outline how the latest statistics on web device usage in the UK and worldwide underlines the necessity of adaptive web design that accounts for the variety of user devices and screen sizes. What can web designers do to ensure our designs are fully responsive and to ensure our website visitors enjoy a seamless user experience whether they are using a mobile, tablet, or desktop device?
Responsive Design: The Changing Digital Landscape
According to a web design survey conducted by GoodFirms, non-responsive design is one of the top reasons that compel a visitor to abandon a website. In a changing digital landscape, with mobile device usage rapidly increasing, flexible and adaptive web design is increasingly critical to ensure a website provides an optimal user experience and is accessible on all devices. Responsive web design is an approach developed by web designer Ethan Marcotte. In his influential article ‘Responsive Web Design’ he argued that instead of tailoring designs to the ever-increasing number of web devices and screen sizes, web designers can “incorporate standards-based technologies into designs to make them more flexible and more adaptive to the media that renders them.” Responsive design is a way of designing websites that allow content to respond fluidly to different viewing contexts.
With the rise of smartphones, web traffic through mobile devices has exploded in recent years. GlobalStats statcounter analysis shows the relative share of device usage worldwide. In December 2022, 60.29% of global web traffic came from mobile, 37.71% from desktop, and 2% from tablet devices.
In the UK, GlobalStats statcounter shows mobile devices exceeding desktop, with 49.11% mobile, 45.94% desktop, and 4.95% tablet. (Fig 1.)
As this graph shows, mobile has overtaken desktop as the most common device in the UK. It’s now more important than ever that website designers account for the increasing variety of screen sizes in their designs. Most of us will be familiar with the experience of accessing a non-responsive website; they often display text and buttons that are too small that make it difficult to read and navigate, the layout is often uneven, and pages may load slowly. It can be a frustrating experience. Non-responsive design is one of the main causes of poor user experience. At its core, successful web design is all about creating positive user experiences. Increasingly, responsive design is understood as an essential element necessary for creating positive user experiences. When users have positives experiences while interacting with your website, they’re more likely to stay on it for longer, and more likely to revisit it in the future.
Responsive web design allows designers to transcend device-specific constraints and create positive user experiences across all devices. Responsive design techniques are essential in creating engaging and visually appealing user interfaces that visitors find easy to navigate, whether they’re using a mobile, desktop, or tablet device. It’s important to be aware that responsive design is not just important for user experience and usability, it’s also increasingly important for Search Engine Optimisation.
Search engines boost rankings for responsive mobile friendly websites, as they deliver better user experiences. Website designs that are not responsive will find it more difficult to rank on search engines.
The ability to generate seamless positive user experiences across all platforms and higher visibility on search engines makes responsive design a no brainer. What can we do, as designers, to make our website responsive? What design techniques allow us to develop a website to be fully responsive?
Responsive Website Design: Putting the User First
Responsive web design is design that responds to the needs of the users and the devices they’re using. It is a process that allows designers to create optimal viewing experiences across all devices. There are now many different web devices, and many different display dimensions across multiple devices. [Fig 2] shows the most common screen sizes for desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
Using responsive design techniques, like fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS styling, web designers can make alterations to website design elements and render these elements effectively relative to the screen display. Employing flexible grid-based layouts and flexible images that automatically adjust design elements to the size of the screen allows designers to optimise all visual content for the users. For designers, the objective is to seamlessly tailor the user interface and user experience of a website design across different devices and platforms.
Using these techniques, combined with planning, testing, and continuous improvement, web designers can ensure their designs deliver positive experiences and high usability across all devices. Design, and responsive design, plays a key role in shaping user experience. Visually appealing, user-friendly designs generate positive experiences and can help increase engagement and retention. Responsive web design puts users first and makes it easy and enjoyable to engage with your site.
The benefits of more positive user experiences and higher visibility on search engines should not be overlooked. Responsive websites generate more website traffic and higher conversions. To capture these benefits, businesses and organisations should ensure their website is responsive, that it provides an optimal experience across all devices and to all site visitors.
Conclusion: Responsive Web Design – The User-Friendly Solution
As we have seen, since the rise of smartphones and other devices, and the huge variety in mobile usage online, responsive web design has become essential for every website. To ensure great user experiences and positive impressions, businesses must ensure their website is responsive on all devices. Unresponsive websites lead poor user experience that can undermine your brand and cause you to lose out on new customers. With responsive design, your website will reach a wider audience and provide a great user experience, no matter what device your audience is using.
Are you looking for website designers to create a responsive website for your business?
Are you interested in adapting your existing website to make it responsive and more mobile-friendly?
At Grinning Graphics, we can help. We understand the increasing importance of responsive design in creating websites that deliver results. All our web designs are fully responsive as standard. Our experienced web designers can work with you to develop responsive and mobile-friendly web designs that deliver seamless user experiences, so that your website looks and feels great across a wide range of desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
Contact us today to book your FREE responsive web design consultation.