Once you’ve decided to take your business online by designing and developing a website, you need to ensure that all of your customers can access it from any device. That’s where responsive design comes in. It is an approach to web design that ensures that most of your customers have an optimal experience while browsing your website. It also includes having navigation with minimum resizing, panning and scrolling so that your users have the same viewing experience which creates the same, or similar, effect whether a user is accessing your site from a desktop or a mobile.
Responsive web design is extremely important in 2023 because more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices. In fact, 92.3% of internet users access the internet using a mobile phone. Search engines, like Google, also encourage website owners to ensure they provide responsive web design and adaptive web design by penalizing sites that do not have a responsive web design. They do this by giving the website a lower ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) so they do not appear at the top of search engine results. Read on to learn more about how you can avoid this as well as the principles of responsive web design, its advantages and disadvantages and if there are any alternatives to responsive design.
Web design trends for 2023
In 2023, you can expect to see clean sites with high visual quality and smooth user experiences. Responsive website design will be all about increasing accessibility this year and creating a simple yet visually appealing website for your users so you can capture their attention in a good way and keep them engaged. The design trends to look out for in responsive web design in 2023 are:
- Hidden menus.
- High-quality scalable vector images.
- Websites with one main page i.e. single long-scrolling page.
- Grid layouts with a card-based design.
- Minimalism and reduced clutter for efficient user experience.
Principles of responsive web design
It’s expected that users should be able to access your website from any device, anywhere and at any time. Before the inception of responsive web design, web designers and developers had to create separate versions of a website for mobile devices, tablets and desktops so that they could each be optimised accordingly to cater for the different screen sizes. With responsive web design, versions of a website or app can be served from one URL but displayed differently depending on the device the user is accessing them from. A single website can look good on any device without requiring separate codebases or multiple server requests for individual pages as it used to.
The principles of responsive website design are:
- Fluid images
Responsive design ensures that your website’s images don’t break when they’re viewed on different devices. Using fluid images will allow your images to stay within a certain value, usually, a percentage so that the layout has a consistent size across devices. For example, if your image takes up 50% of a desktop screen, it will also take up 50% of a mobile screen and never spill over.
Responsive design also caters for a fluid layout where, just like fluid images, content and layout are given relative sizes so they only fill up the specified space of the container they’re in. This ensures that your user can access all of your content and the design doesn’t break or spill over the sides of the web page.
A responsive website design needs breakpoints which are resolution cut-offs that indicate when content needs to scale to a particular view. Breakpoints allow the design to adjust logically and accordingly depending on the device and its resolution. So the design will automatically present itself in an ideal arrangement depending on the breakpoints.
Advantages of responsive web design
The main advantage of responsive design is the potential to reach more users without having to create multiple sites for each device in order to accommodate for the different screen sizes alone. You can think of responsive web design as being like water in a cup. No matter the size or shape of the cup you pour water into, the water always takes the shape of the cup. In a sense, the water becomes the vessel. This is the same as responsive web design. Your website’s elements dynamically rearrange themselves to fit the browser window that it’s being accessed from. Apart from this, the advantages of responsive web design include:
- An increase in mobile traffic
More users are accessing the web via mobile so catering for this audience will result in an increase in your mobile traffic. It’s important that your website is mobile-friendly so you’re not frustrating your users. You can easily opt for a responsive website design to cater for these users so that they don’t encounter distorted images or content which can make their experience of your site sub-optimal. With responsive website design, you get an ideal layout with optimal versatility at a lower development cost.
- Lower maintenance needs
Since you only have one website to take care of, as opposed to a different one for different devices, you don’t have to spend as much money and time on maintenance. You can also stick to one strategy for your content, digital marketing and SEO respectively. This is because responsive website design offers you a one-size-fits-all solution where there’s less to worry about so you can focus on improving your strategies and increasing conversions.
- Lower bounce rates
Offering your users a good user experience will encourage them to stay on your site longer. When your website is responsive, your users are less likely to get frustrated because everything works seamlessly, or as seamlessly as possible, meaning it’s easier to keep your users engaged with the site and content and stick around for some time. This lowers your bounce rate because you give users the opportunity to explore different areas of your site with ease.
- Improved SEO and UX
Google uses different factors to rank your website in its SERPs and having a responsive website is one of them. This means that it can improve your SEO and help you get a better ranking. Google has been known to penalise sites that aren’t responsive since its move towards expanding its use of mobile-friendliness in 2015. You can also avoid the risk of duplicate content if you have a responsive site because Google may read your desktop and mobile sites as two competing sites if you design separate versions instead of creating a responsive one.
Disadvantages of responsive web design
- Slower page loading times
Responsive web design might be easy to maintain because it requires only one website to be developed, it does include elements that take a long time to download. For example, it can include high-resolution images and videos that will need to be included and loaded for each device. This means that they may take more time to load on mobile devices compared to desktops so you can expect slower page loading times.
- Web development times can be longer
If you’re building a responsive website, it may take time to develop. This is because the design needs to be planned out so that it can be accessed from any device which takes time. Web designers need to map out how the site can have the same effect on a mobile or tablet as it does on a desktop. They may not look exactly the same, but the user experience and feel of the site should be the same. Once the design is finalised, it may take time to build the website according to the responsive design specs. Web developers may need extra time to ensure that everything works well and that the website doesn’t lose functionality on different devices.
- Navigation can be a bit more difficult
Because you need to fit in the same content and elements on a mobile as on a desktop, you may find that maintaining the look and feel of a desktop site when implementing it on a mobile device site can become difficult. The smaller screen size can result in a slight challenge when it comes to navigation.
Alternatives to responsive web design
Although every website should aim to be responsive in 2023, because of the many benefits it offers and because it’s essential in creating a positive user experience for your users, you may still be wondering if there is an alternative to responsive web design in case you feel your website would perform better with a different option.
An alternative to responsive web design is adaptive web design. The difference between the two is that with responsive web design, your website uses only one layout which adjusts itself, including content, navigation, and all elements, to fit your user’s device screen. Adaptive web design, on the other hand, doesn’t reconfigure all design elements but rather employs different sizes of one design to accommodate the different screen sizes.
With adaptive design, the web designer can have more control over each element of your website and tailor them to each device type. It does offer a good user experience because users will still have access to a site that is resized accordingly but the disadvantage of this is that it is more time-consuming to design and develop compared to a responsive website.
The main thing to remember when choosing which approach to use, whether it’s responsive web design or adaptive web design, is to consider your target audience. Ensure that you do what is best for them and what will help them achieve their goals best. Doing so will benefit your brand and your bottom line in the long run.
Creating a site with responsive and adaptive web design is important in 2023 as you can expect a lot of your customers to access your website or app from a mobile device. It not only improves the user experience (UX) of the site but also saves you from having to create separate websites to cater for different devices and screen sizes. If you’d like to know more about responsive website design, our experts can help guide you and collaborate with you to come up with a bespoke website that your users will love.
Lilo offers affordable responsive website design to all our clients from a wide range of industries and trades. We have over 10 years of experience, designing and developing websites for businesses all over the world. Reach out to our experts and contact us for a free, no-obligation quote so you can get started on creating a website that will help your sales soar. We also offer Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services that will help your website get the visibility and recognition it needs so your customers can easily find your business online.