What is Responsive Design?
A question that I get asked often is, “What is Responsive Design, and do I need it?” The best answer to this is, if you want a site that will showcase your custom template on any device, then responsive is the way to go. Responsive is a new, revolutionary approach to site development. For this reason, not all design companies offer this service. It can be tricky to code, and can cost more than a “normal” template, however, responsive is extraordinarily beneficial in the long run. A site that has a responsive design will be mobile friendly, and as a result, can help generate more sales.
Responsive design optimizes websites for both desktops, and mobile devices. This means that the site presents the best possible browsing experience regardless of the type of device, or operating system being used. At the rate that new devices are being produced, this approach is invaluable. A site with a responsive design will automatically switch to accommodate for screen size, resolution, platform, and orientation, (portrait or landscape). This eliminates the need to create multiple templates for various sized devices, and also eradicates the manipulation of a site through, “pinch and zoom.”
Adding responsive to an existing site can be more complicated to code than a template that planned for its design to be responsive. For this reason, if possible, keep responsive in mind when first creating a website. It might cost more initially, but over time you will be saving time and money because you will have a template that can perform on any device.
What are Some Other Options?
Mobile templates and Mobile Apps are possible alternatives to responsive design. Mobile templates can be designed and implemented to work with universally used devices. Basic, as well as custom designs can be created, and hiding content from mobile devices can help add to the mobile experience, as a user on a smaller screen will not be overwhelmed with unnecessary information.
If a custom design is not important, and you would rather choose a solution that is more basic, then take a look at the mobile templates that come standard with many eCommerce platforms. They are by no means flashy or custom, but they get the job done, and make your site mobile friendly. Both Bigcommerce and Volusion offer mobile templates that can be selected by enabling a setting in your store’s admin. To the left are two examples of basic, free Bigcommerce,and Volusion mobile templates, that also feature products, or information about your company.
Mobile Apps are another option for achieving mobile optimization. They can however, be pricey to create, and do nothing for SEO. This is because they do not require internet connection in order to function; meaning the use of the app will not affect the rankings of a site on a search result page. When an app is created, an eCommerce store is turned into an m-commerce app. This means that the app will have to be downloaded from an app store, and once running, risks the possibility of crashing on a user. Mobile apps can also take a while to code, and can be the most expensive approach of the three. Yet, they can also be great for an established company that wants to give customers access to a large amount of content.
The key to deciding what approach is right for you, is to consider what priorities are most important. If creating a custom design that can be enjoyed on both desktops, and mobile devices is your top priority — responsive design can save you time and money in the long run. Perhaps you are working within a tight budget, and simply want to ensure that the site is mobile friendly — a mobile template might be the way to go. Maybe SEO is not an issue, and you are looking for an approach that does not rely on an internet connection to be operational — then a mobile app could be just what you need. Responsive design might be the way of the future, but for now, Mobile Templates and Mobile Apps are still great approaches for achieving mobile optimization.