Rio Rancho, NM – www.gregjorgensen.com
Not long ago it was acceptable to have one website layout that looked good on a 800 x 600 pixel computer screen. Even though monitors got bigger with time, our original websites looked just fine with a little empty space to the sides of the main content. As smartphones became more popular, it soon became clear that we would need to have a mobile version of our website too. Many companies began selling mobile websites as separate products or add-ons for our current sites. Nowadays however, our websites are being accessed by an unlimited number of devices with various resolutions and screen sizes that make separate versions of our content all but impossible. What is the answer?
A new approach to web design called “responsive web design” provides the solution. Older coding techniques only allowed designers to choose the number of columns into which the content would flow. As the screen resolution changed, the columns would get wider, narrower, or not change at all. Have you ever pulled up a website on your smart phone and the text was too small to read until you zoomed in several times? Even with variable width columns, most standard websites looked lousy as screen resolution was pushed to the extremes on both ends.
Modern responsive web design takes a completely different approach. Responsive web design detects the device on which the website is being viewed and changes the format and layout of the webpage too look most appropriate on that device. A responsive website might have five columns and a detailed navigation bar when viewed on a 23” monitor but only have one column and large buttons for navigation when viewed on a smart phone. The same website can be coded to detect when it is being viewed on a tablet and offer touch navigation rather than commands buried in cascading menus.
Responsive websites offer many other advantages in addition to just looking better on multiple devices. First, since you only have one site to maintain, keeping your content up to date is much easier (imagine having to update a desktop version, a laptop version, a tablet version, and a smartphone version separately). Make changes in your hours or staff biographies on a responsive website once and the content is updated on every device! Another advantage is that the search engines love sites that are easier to read. They keep track of “bounce rates” (how long a reader stays on a page before moving on to something else) and use them to determine how good the content on that site is. When a potential patient searches for an orthodontist in your area, Google says “The readers who look at this doctor’s site stay longer and therefore his content must be better.” If your site is easier to read, your SEO will be better.
If you would like to see a responsive website in action, check out the Microsoft site at www.microsoft.com. Resize your browser window and watch how the information changes. Not only will the layout change, but the amount of information and way that you navigate it also adapts. If your website needs a refresh or you’re thinking about a new one, make sure that your designer uses responsive web design.