Make Your Next Site Responsive

It’s no secret that sales of desktop PCs and laptops are on the decline. Even Apple with its much-vaunted hardware, has seen a big dip in iMac sales, so far at least outweighed by increasing sales of iPads and iPhones. So if you’ve been seeing a spike lately in your smartphone and tablet web traffic steps, join the party.

With so many people now surfing the web on smaller devices, now may be a good time to evaluate how well your site performs on smaller screen sizes. But first a word about our own best practices here at Radar Media.

Whenever we launch a new site, we make sure it works well on multiple browsers and operating systems. We also make adjustments for smaller devices. For example the drop-down menus should work regardless of screen size, and the site should easily pinch up or down to zoom in and out without issue.

For some mostly big companies like eBay and Amazon of course, that’s not good enough. Customers expect a truly optimized experience to be offered by way of an app in the app stores from Apple, Google/Android and Microsoft. For smaller companies with more limited budgets, though, developing a custom app has never been a viable option.

Fortunately now for them and many of our clients, there’s a new option option available called responsive design. Unlike apps, which require a separate software download, responsive design refers to a new way to design and build websites so that they automatically reformat themselves to look good and perform well on all screen sizes and shapes.

When viewed on a desktop, a responsive site looks like any other web design. But when viewed on a smartphone or tablet, the graphics automatically resize themselves to fit into the smaller screen real estate available. Even more impressively, the navigation changes from, say, a standard drop-down horizontal menu to one that’s more vertically-oriented and far more touch friendly. It’s as if the site were displaying as a custom app, but without the custom app development cost or client download.

It’s still early days for responsive design, and there are some design restrictions as a result. But a growing number of content management systems and frameworks, including WordPress and Joomla, now support it. To see responsive design in action, check out the Radar site for SystemExperts, one of our newer clients. If you don’t have time to run the site on multiple browsers and devices, then just try resizing the width of the browser from “normal” screen size to about the width of a smartphone screen. And behold the magic of responsive design in action.

Until next time…