Just 15 years ago, people had to use a desktop computer to go online. The only way to be mobile was with a laptop computer, but back then, laptops were bulky and heavy, and wireless Internet wasn’t commercially available yet. In short, people had to be practically tethered to their computers if they want to gain access to the so-called ‘information superhighway.’
Fast forward to 2013, and see how things have changed. Many people carry either smartphones or tablets, and thanks to 3G and Wi-Fi, most of them are always online. And even with that, the number of mobile device owners worldwide is expected to rise next year. The developing world is fast catching up. And so should companies! When everyone is on mobile, companies should seriously think about implementing responsive web design if they don’t want to be left behind.
But what is responsive web design in the first place? According to Wikipedia, responsive web design (RWD) is “a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).” Now that more and more people are using mobile devices, web design should be optimized for mobile viewing.
Surprisingly, a lot of companies still haven’t caught on, and that’s bad for business. It’s frustrating to go to a company website only to find out that parts of it aren’t working properly on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device — some features are disabled, text is too small to be readable, buttons take too long to respond, layout is confusing, images are out of proportion, etc. These seemingly little problems are, in reality, big concerns to customers — big enough to make them switch to the competition.
But before companies can implement RWD for mobile devices, they need to understand what people look for when they’re on mobile:
Mobile devices are smaller than laptops and desktops, so people would naturally want clean interfaces, crisp graphics, and readable fonts. They also want simple steps when performing tasks. Complicated and cluttered websites will only turn away people.
People check their mobile devices frequently within the day. Thus, companies should keep their websites regularly updated with new information. Otherwise, people would get tired of visiting and look for other websites that offer timely content.
With so many sources of information available and so little time to go through them all, people prefer to visit websites that will give them exactly what they need when they want it. Targeting content toward their intended audience is a good way for companies to draw in more customers.
The future is headed to mobile use. According to Statista, an online statistics portal, there will be 5 billion mobile phone users by 2017, just five years away from now. The mobile version of your company’s website will no longer be just an option — it will become the default destination for people who want to check out your products and services. The least you can do is to optimize it to leave a great first impression.
Want to know how responsive web design looks in action? Try out Convene, an online board portal and paperless board meeting software for iPad, Android, and web. Convene is fluid and intuitive, making it a very user-friendly app whether you’re on your smartphone or tablet.