Responsive website design involves building your website so that it will automatically adapt to the available viewing space. This ensures that your site is as user friendly as possible whether it is being seen on a smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. On a mobile device you will typically see a one column layout that allows your users to read your content more easily, whilst on a desktop your website can make use of a much wider space to display your information. With responsive design we aim to alter the layout without 'hiding' elements from view. Your users will still get the same information, it will just be presented differently.
If you would like to see an example of a responsive website design, you're looking at one! Try minimising your browser window (if you are viewing this on desktop in a modern browser such as Chrome, Safari and IE9+) and shrinking the sides in. You will notice that the menu will change to just say 'Menu' and that elements that were stacked side by side are now on top of one another. The changes for my site are more pronounced when viewing the 'What I've Done' page - you will notice the boxes shuffle around as the site gets smaller.
Mobile websites are similar to a responsive design in that they make the best use of the available space to present the user with the best possible viewing experience. However they differ in that they are two separate sites (usually located on www.mobile.yourdomain.com.au or www.m.yourdomain.com.au). In some instances it is more appropriate to deliver a second site than delivering alternate layouts for one site. If your customers are likely to use your site on their mobile phones to quickly access certain information, or the reasoning behind why they are visiting your site on a phone rather than a desktop is quite different, then this may be a preferred option.
Why Choose a Mobile Friendly Site?
If you are unsure as to why you should make your website mobile friendly, consider these interesting stats:
- "Market research firm, Telsyte, predicts that more than 20 million smartphones will be used by consumers by 2016 and that by 2014 more Australians will access digital services via a smartphone than a computer."- Financial Standard Online, 18th June 2012.
- "Behind Singapore, Australia has the highest smartphone penetration in the world at 37 per cent."- Sydney Morning Herald, 8th September 2011.
- "There are interesting implications for business as well, with 49 percent of Australians using their smartphones to research businesses, with a quarter having purchased products via their mobile. One fifth will also take their smartphone with them to research goods and services while they are out shopping. And 19 percent of Australians search for local suppliers and services using their mobile on a daily basis." - A Faster Future.