We have arrived in a new age of enhanced connectivity. Our content consumption sources have shifted from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets. We now need faster browsers and faster devices for information viewing and distribution. All this means that web designers must design pages that can be easily viewed on any device.
Responsive web design (RWD) is a method that optimizes websites for multiple devices and offers an optimal viewing experience. As per an in-depth study by Morgan Stanley, mobile usage will overtake the current desktop tradition by 2015. Innovative use of HTML5, media queries and CSS3 in responsive design enables designers to build adjustable screen resolutions, images and content. It helps designers create adaptive websites which can react to different devices used by people.
RWD Challenges and Opportunities for Brands
Content distribution and accessibility have always been major challenges for web designers. The rising popularity of newer devices like smartphones, phablets, tablets and mini-tablets has made it imperative for designers to create websites that function well with all different internet-enabled devices. Moreover, innovative coding is required to build responsive web pages even for long-standing browsers.
Brands wished to explore newer possibilities for expansion and growth. As a whole, brands wanted to offer a smooth, engaging and interactive user experience. Companies needed to bank heavily on brand image and brand recognition for their continued survival. They needed processes for instant distribution of data. RWD has answers to many of these burring questions.
However, there are two sides of the coin; RWD cannot solve the problem completely. Another limitation of responsive design is that it works better with web pages which have lesser graphical elements, or it can change the whole mobile user experience to “only scroll”.
RWD – Geared for Branding
RWD offers immense possibilities to designers for building user-friendly websites that can run on any platform. Businesses, on the other hand, save time and money by building one highly optimized website for use in multiple channels.
Responsive pages are easy to optimize for search engines and thus guarantee immense traffic – an exciting feature for every brand. High traffic helps brands to highly customize their products or services for new users, thus leading to brand innovation through tactical marketing. Responsive design is a boon for e-commerce. Businesses get to know their customer preferences instantly. Products and services are then designed to lure in more consumers and to please the existing ones.
Amazon has found success using responsive design for generating higher revenues and tracking user behavior. Even government organizations are not untouched by the growing importance of responsive web design. Obama’s re-election campaign that used responsive design to raise $250 million is a good case in point.
RWD Branding – You need more than just Designers
Before companies step into the arena of responsive design there are certain things they must take into consideration. Responsive design is not just for mobiles alone. By using responsive design just for mobile alone, may sometimes fail the purpose of the whole concept altogether. A well-designed responsive website responds equally well to the needs of people using PCs or laptops and smartphones or tablets.
Responsive brand building is a combined effort of teams like content writing, design team, development team, customer service team, and everyone involved in the business. This process ensures that the business is listening to the users and addressing them in every way possible. It is very important to bear in mind that responsive web design is a move to provide an interactive and engaging platform to the brands and its users, without comprising its design elements. Designers must serve an equal balance of visuals and text so as not to not confuse or misguide.
Long Road for RWD
RWD is still in its development stage. Designers will have to experiment tremendously for it to evolve and become a self-sustaining discipline in itself. How can responsive websites work for the visually impaired? Can responsive designs be printed? Are they available in different languages? What other interactive features can brands incorporate? How will social media react to better optimize responsive web pages? These questions, and many others, are awaiting answers.
Author Bio: Alan Hall is a Los Angeles Web Designer, working for a leading web design firm, PLAVEBAPPS. He is fascinated by the way designing ideas have changed over the last few years. He is passionate about designing, and he loves to design websites that look perfect on any and every device.