The Responsive Web

We would all recognise the scenario. You’re sat on the sofa with your laptop perched precariously on your lap, paying half attention to the latest viral cat video while idly scrolling through a different website on your phone. Your other half is sat next to you, tablet in hand, browsing through a range of different sites.

You could switch on the telly (internet enabled of course) or turn on the Playstation (it’s got a bespoke web browser) if the cat video proves to be less joyful than the clickbait link promised (“You won’t believe how this cat reacted to my hiccups!”). Whichever device you choose, you’re never more than 10 seconds from being able to access any website in the world. And you expect that the experience you have on one device will be just as good as any other. That’s just the reality of the web enabled world we find ourselves living in.

That’s where responsive web design comes into play. Responsive web design means that a web page uses the same URL and code, regardless of whether the site is being accessed on a laptop, tablet, phone or games console. The HTML (commonly known as ‘front end’ code) will adjust to fit the screen size of the device you are using, meaning that you can experience the same website from multiple devices, with (in theory) the same great experience.

At Aylesworth Fleming we are big fans of the Bootstrap framework. Bootstrap was originally created by the team at Twitter and it has become one of the most popular frameworks in the world to code in. It allows us to create great designs which aren’t restricted by the smaller mobile viewing sizes and is a very lean way of implementing responsive code. We know the Bootstrap framework will work across multiple screen sizes using a grid system so we can concentrate on making a great user experience for our users.

Looking at our web analytics, we can see that the trend for viewing sites on mobile or tablet devices is only going one way. From being less than 25% about 4 years ago, a lot of our house builder sites regularly see more than 60% of traffic coming from a mobile or tablet device. We also know from some of our own internal research that more than 40% of users will visit the same website on more than 2 different devices. They may start their search for a new home on the laptop one evening, then save their favourites and continue browsing on the tablet while on the bus to work. Then, with a spare 10 minutes at lunch they’ll jump on the phone to see if anything new has come on to the market.

All sites need to be able to service a customer who expects this kind of interactivity as an absolute minimum. Fail to provide it and you will lose that customer quickly – and it will be a very hard job to tempt them back. It’s not like there aren’t options out there for them.

Customer expectation isn’t the only reason for a responsive website. Google has recently announced that mobile friendly sites will become a significant ranking factor in mobile search results from April 21st 2015. Google wrote:

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

As you can see, a responsive site is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s absolutely essential. If you want to know more about the responsive web, please feel free to get in contact with us.