Please don’t misunderstand us. We’re not mocking responsive design; heck, we’ve preached its importance ourselves more than once, and will continue to do so should anyone ask. But in the frenzy of convincing businesses that designing their website responsible is crucial for their success, an emphasis on the importance of doing so effectively is missing too often.
But that’s what we’re here for! We’ll be the caped crusaders swooping in to save the internet. If you’re ready to update your website so that it responds to different screen sizes, here are the questions you should ask yourself:
1) Do I Lose Quality?
We’ve all been there: we get so excited about a concept that we begin executing it, but by the time we’re done, it turns out that the idea of it was much better than the reality. In responsive design, we’ve heard “horror stories” about clients who got the responsive design they asked for, only their web traffic was never as good as before. More often than not, the reason was the quality of the site.
The term “quality” is a bit generic, so in this context, we’ll consider it as one of two things: technical or optical. From a technical standpoint, your site may suffer if your web developer inserts too much code (or not the right code) to make it responsive. Suddenly, your page will take longer to load, and you will lose over one third of your entire audience if your page takes 3 seconds or longer to pop up. Done right, responsive design should not increase your page load times. If it does, something went wrong in the quality department.
Of course, optics also matter. We’ll refrain from talking too much about this, as it’s obvious that bugs like missing images or bad visuals will negatively affect your site. But we do want to touch on one point: be sure that when you test your new, responsive design, you don’t just test it on mobile devices. While “mobile” is undoubtedly the future, almost half of all internet users still use desktop devices, and they will not be happy if their experience suffers on a responsive page. Testing your site on all devices (including desktop) before it goes live is a must.
2) Is My Content Responsive?
As you might imagine, responsive design goes beyond the layout. Sure, it’s important not to have to scroll when you look at the site from an iPhone, but that lack of scrolling is important vertically as well as horizontally. A relatively short paragraph of content that looks fine on a desktop may look like an impenetrable wall of text on a mobile device. So before your conversion, make sure that your content – from the homepage to the About pages – reads well and is easy to peruse on all devices.
3) How About the Navigation?
It’s often an afterthought, but navigation is actually one of the breaking points to determine whether your responsive design is effective or not. Remember that on a mobile device, you don’t have the luxury of a “Navigation Bar” all you have is a small button with three lines through it that brings up all of your options.
Individual Nav items should be short, and your menus should not be so nestled that they turn into a maze, leaving the user little chance of finding their way back out. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that testing your navigation and all of it should be the single most important item on your list of things to do before your responsive design goes live.
It’s 2015, and responsive design is important. But it’s just as important to get the design right, ensuring that your audience comfortably navigates and reads your content – and leaves with a positive impression of your business.