Unless you’ve buried your head in the sand over the last few years, you’ll be well aware of the growth of the mobile device. You can’t go anywhere without someone getting out their latest smart phone, tablet or notebook to go online.
If you are a popular mobile surfer yourself, how frustrating do you find it to look at some sites on a smaller screen; the text is too small, the menu is hidden, you can’t navigate the page well? The site is not mobile friendly.
So what does this mean for the website owner?
Should your website to be easy to read (accessible) on all these different mobile platforms? And to complicate it even more, it’s not just the screen size you need to take into account, it’s the choice of browsers and touch screen technology available. If you’re just about getting your head around the fact that you need a website in the first place or that your website needs to work better, where on earth do you factor in the technology required to make your website readable, no matter how people access it.
Enter Responsive Web Design (RWD)
Mashable termed 2013 as the year of the responsive web design. In essence this means a website that auto-adjusts to display properly on all devices. To quickly see what I mean by this, click on the right edge of your browser window and drag to the left, shrinking your page from full screen to an area the size of a smartphone. No matter how small you makes the display area, a website with a responsive design looks good and is easy to read. As the page changes shape, the images may adjust, the layout change or the number of columns change but importantly, the page should be clearly readable, whatever the screen size.
Do the test on your own site – is your website mobile friendly?
If the layout isn’t adapting, then it’s not responsive. Still not sure what I mean – try changing the window size on your desktop and you can see how the website responds as it adjusts to fill the screen.
So what can you do make your site mobile friendly and do you need to?
The quick answer is speak to your web developer. Depending on the platform your website was built on, it could be a simple upgrade to a responsive web platform (WordPress is great for this) or a complete overhaul.
And if you’re not ready to rebuild your site for optimal display on all devices, you could consider simplifying your site design through:
- simpler page designs
- large font sizes
- key information placed “above the fold”
- big, touchable buttons
But before you enter into a cold sweat with the thought of all the money you need to spend to have a responsive website design, ask yourself how vital it is to your business right now. How many of your target users are likely to view your website using a mobile device versus a more traditional platform? (Quick tip – if you have Google Analytics you can see what devices your website visitors use). Is it essential to your service that your website can be accessed whilst people are out and about? Do people like to spend time on your site researching and analysing?
Whilst the need for responsive websites is not going to go away, your website may be fit for purpose for now and it can hold fire until you are ready to revamp it or something more urgent creates the need for an overhaul. And when you are ready, make sure you do factor in responsive design into upgrade.
For more information on responsive web design from a web developers point of view, read Steve’s blog So what is responsive web design
Need a second opinion on whether you need a responsive mobile friendly website – get in touch.