An exponential rise in the popularity of smartphones and tablets has made Responsive Web Design a necessity for website owners. The equation is simple: Build a site with responsive design, and open gates to reach out to a wider audience.
Before mobile devices began soaring to popularity, the main challenge web designers had to deal with was keeping the same look and feel of their websites. But the spread of mobile devices has drastically changed the web design landscape. Now, web designers have to deal with may tougher challenges in a bid to make their site fit for various screen sizes. And the only solution to this problem is a responsive design. Read this blog to gain insight into benefits, challenges and fixes for developing a website with responsive design.
Flexibility at An All New Level
A responsive web design site helps achieve content flexibility like never before. The content on sites in question behaves like water to move smoothly across screen resolutions and all devices. I am sure we all have learnt in school that water fits into whatever space it gets and takes its shape too. The same is true for images and grids on a responsive site, since they also act as fluid therein and resize themselves according to different screen sizes and resolutions.
Top Notch User Experience
Content is the success mantra in this current digital arena. However, content fails to yield the desired results if your users are not able to consume it on their preferred choice of device. The implication is pretty clear, responsive web design provides a user top notch user experience, regardless of the device they use to access your site. The content of a responsive web design site remains the same even on different devices and resizes automatically to give the same visual appeal, which significantly enhances user experience.
Having a Single Site Reduces the Burden on Your Pocket
It’s obvious that two sites cost more than one. So, if you build two websites for desktops and mobile devices, you would have to bear the development, maintenance and functional cost of both the sites. But why would you do so when just having one site that conforms to the need of all device can serve the purpose. Thus, a responsive web design site reduces your business cost, and removes the hassles of updating and maintaining two sites.
Easily Turns Content On and Off for Each Device
A responsive layout enables the delivery of relevant content on specific devices. For example, a large sliding banner on your site’s homepage to link various areas of your site is not a fit for a mobile device. But since your site is responsive, smartphone users would see small thumbnails of these banners, thereby making it easier for users to navigate.
Eliminates the Need of Developing Mobile App for Multiple Platforms
A responsive design rids the need of developing platform specific apps. If you developed an app for App Store, you would soon feel the need of developing another one for Play Store. Then, you will have to develop for other app stores to reach out to maximum number of potential users. But why to go through all these hassles when all your users can view your responsive website on any device they prefer. The bottom line is, a responsive site cuts the cost of developing cross-platform apps without causing any negative impact on user experience.
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Google also Recommends Responsive Site
According to Google, the best thing as far as mobile configuration is concerned is a responsive design of your site. That responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML for all devices, Google finds it much easier to crawl, index, and organize their content. If you have a different site for smartphones, Google will have to deal with different URl and different HTML than the ones for desktop, forcing the search engine giant to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site.
Boosts SEO Efforts
With responsive web design comes various SEO benefits. A responsive web design not only saves time to maintain just one site, it also reduces the burden of building links and drawing traffic to multiple sites. It becomes much easier to implement SEO techniques and derive fruitful results when you are required to focus only on one site.
Without a doubt, a responsive web design improves conversion rates, gets more traffic to your site, cuts business cost, saves time and boosts your SEO efforts. However, all these benefits comes along with challenges that developers have to deal with in order to create a responsive web design.
Sketching and Prototyping
The visual stage in the past was not a cumbersome process. Before kicking off the development process, the client simply had to give approval for static images and screenshots. However, designing is no longer the same and makes sketching and prototyping a difficult process. Now, more attention is paid to designing elements and devising ways to rearrange them across different screen sizes and resolutions.
Fix: One way to responsive sketching is creation of sketches for a desktop home page and other website pages first. The next major step is to making them a fit for different device dimensions or at least the devices that are the most popular among people.
Another way for responsive sketching is to make use of paper in order to let the client understand design layouts and how they are going to reflow on on different mobile screen sizes. Also, instead of creating wireframes for every single page and state, you can create a system of components and figure out ways to reassemble them for different configurations.
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We all know about Hamburger Menu, right? The three bars at the top left corner of a user interface still serve the purpose of the navigation button on numerous websites. However, a website with complicated structure makes it troublesome for many users to navigate beyond the three-bar menu.
Fix: An intuitive and self-explanatory navigation is what designers must aim at. Even a new user can access your site at ease if your navigation decision is based on a careful study of how and why users browse your site. Besides, gaining insight into your site’s content and information architecture could help you a great deal in making the right navigation decision. Moreover, testing navigation on different screen sizes could help you derive important results for much improved accessibility of your site. Click on the link for various responsive navigation and menu patterns.
Displaying Data on Small Screens
Since data tables often have a great number of rows and columns, it becomes very difficult to show them on small screens. The tables become a real bane when they are complex and convoluted.
Fix: The best way out to deal with data display problems on small screens is to go for responsive tables. Other remedies to the problems are as follows:
Instead of the grid layout, you can create a smaller table without horizontal scrolling.
Create smaller version of tables and give a link to the full version.
Display only important elements, while a drop down menu provides access to all the content of the table.
Use rainbow tables where colors replace columns.
Sometimes, responsive sites becomes a subject to slow loading due to traffic from both desktops and mobile devices. Also, some responsive sites weigh a lot, a factor that greatly contributes to slow loading. A study shows that 74% of users abandon sites that take more than five seconds to load or provide what they expect.
Fix: The best solution to this problem is conditional loading, which calls for loading of only what users need. Instead of a flood of images, galleries, documents, downloads etc, you can ensure fast loading of those elements that are paramount to let to the users know what you are offering to them. Since more and more people are becoming used to access the internet through their mobiles rather than desktops, conditional loading stands the best chance to eliminate your responsive site’s loading woes.
Long Development Time
Making a site responsive takes a lot of time since you require less resources and time for creating a regular desktop site. However, designers and developers have to make arduous efforts to build a responsive site for various screen sizes. Compared to a regular site, a responsive one takes double the time.
Fix: Well, the solution to this problem is to make gradual changes on your site and let it evolve naturally. This helps in saving a lot of time and effort since responsive sites can evolve from time to time.
Conversion of Fixed Sites into Responsive Ones
Developers find it difficult to figure out whether to make changes in the less flexible code of fixed-layout websites or leave them as they are.
Fix: Converting a fixed site into a responsive one involves a lot of effort on developers’ end. But it’s certainly much easier for light and simple sites. There are two ways of doing it: First, you can reverse style sheets and templates and second, you can go ahead with greenfield rebuild. A greenfield rebuild, which entails rebuilding a site without taking any cognizance of prior work, is the best to go for when you need to convert a bigger, complicated website into a responsive site.
Older Versions of Internet Explorer don’t Work with CSS3 Media Queries
Since older versions of IE do not support CSS3 Media Queries, content of a responsive site does not properly display on mobile devices.
You can maintain the original layout by using Polyfill, which is an additional code that opens gates to facilities not being built into a web browser. Polyfill helps a developer implement technology the browser is expected to provide natively. Another way out is to use conditional IE style sheet with elementary styling.
Responsive web design paves the way to boost business sales, increase traffic, enhance user engagement and stay ahead in the competition. However, you need to cope with various challenges to avail those benefits of responsive web design. If you own a responsive design site or have been a part of responsive web design team ever, please share your experience with us in the comment box below.