Google Search On Apple iPad2 - mobile marketing for retailersResponsive websites are the latest must-have designs for online businesses. Why? Because more browsers are using mobile handsets to access the web and traditional web builds do not fit smaller screens.

As a result this makes user-experience a pain in the Arsenal and Google ignore your page in mobile search results.

A website is typically designed to fit into a specific space. When you access a website on your laptop or desktop computer, the design fills the entire screen and you can see the entire page and its content clearly.

With the menu bars, side bars and content clearly visible it is easy to navigate the website using a scroll bar and menus to click-through to other pages. A well designed website is user-friendly – something search engines demand.

However, when this same website is accessed on a smaller screen such as a smartphone, the content, menu bars and sidebars are not clearly visible. The users has to use scroll bars along the bottom and up and down the side to navigate the site.

You have probably had this experience yourself. It’s awkward isn’t it? In essence, this type of web experience is not user-friendly, and it has become custom for visitors to immediately log out of websites they cannot easily navigate.

What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design enables websites to change size to fit into whatever sized screen the browsers is using to visit your site. If they have a 4-inch smartphone, the content will narrow in size and filter down for them to scroll through.

Likewise, if you are viewing a website on a laptop, but want to open another window to compare two websites side by side, you will notably see the form of the design change to fit the window. If you are not sure what I mean, try it now and see – downsize your window.

In short, responsive website are flexible and can be viewed and navigated regardless of the screen size visitors are using. A well-designed site will fit on a 4-inch screen and an 80-inch screen.

Obviously, smaller screen will hide content that is not necessarily relevant. Google has confirmed the web owners will not be culpable of trying to deliberately hide content if it is validated as part of a responsive design.

The benefits of responsive web design

Now that more people are using their mobile phones to access the internet, responsive web design is crucial – and they offer a number of benefits over traditional designs, namely:

• Retain visitors
• Save time and money
• Included in search engine ranking
• Improve lead generation

Retain visitors

Responsive web designs offer a much better user-experience for visitors using smaller screens. Because your site is easy to navigate, you increase the chances of visitors hanging around to explore your content.

When a website does not fit a smaller-sized screen, it is difficult for visitors to view content. Having to use dual navigation bars does not provide a good user experience and visitors click straight back out and go to another site – probably your competitors.

Save time and money

The initial solution web designers came up with to accommodate web browsers using handheld devices was to build a second website which was customisable for mobile.

The problem with this solution is you then have two websites to manage and maintain which is ultimately time consuming and costs you more in admin in the long-run.

A responsive web design on the other hand is just one site that adjusts to fit any screen. Maintenance is simple and less costly to build one site rather than two or three.

Google rankings

Google recently announced responsive websites will be given priority over non-responsive websites on mobile handsets. The search engine giant is trying to improve user-experience across the board and responsive sites on mobile phones certainly does that.

Improve lead generation

Copywriters have also been challenged to shorten the amount of sales content on a page in order to get the message across in the fewest amount of words. As a result responsive web designs are better for SEO as there are more pages for crawlers to score and it makes a better browsing experience for visitors without them being overwhelmed with a full page of content.

Well written copy that provokes a reader’s interest also gives you an advantage with lead generation. Visitors are more likely to take action and get in contact to find out more if they are intrigued, rather than your sales copy explaining everything they need to know in the first instance.

Responsive web design not only ticks a number of boxes that give you an advantage over traditional websites, but is a long-term solution to the way people are accessing websites.

If your website is not responsive, you will damage your online business to a point where having a website is utterly useless. If you do not have a responsive website yet, get one now before it is too late.