With the growing popularity of smart phones and tablets, websites are commonly being viewed on screens of different shapes and sizes. Approximately 350 million personal computers are sold each year, but it is estimated that over 900 million smartphones and nearly 200 million tablets will be sold in 2013 (Wall Street Journal, B1, 4/11/13). Going forward, when a website is designed it needs to be viewable on all different types of devices, not only the traditional computer screen.
Responsive design allows the website to be resized dependent on what device it is being viewed with. Responsive design doesn’t just shrink the site to fit the device’s screen, but shifts the content so that it is still legible. In techno jargon, flexible images and fluid grids are resized to fit the screen. For example, a website that has a design with 4 columns across the page will be completely viewable on a computer screen/laptop. On a tablet with a slightly smaller screen, the 4 columns may shift so that 2 columns are above the other two, allowing the user to scroll down to view the entire content. On a smart phone, one column would be on top of the other. The shift of content allows for the site to be viewable, while remaining functional. Older sites, without responsive design, simply shrink the site to fit a smart phone or tablet, making it difficult to view.
We recently launched a new website for Hickory Smokehouse of Kingston, www.hickoryrestaurant.com, ensuring that their website was easily viewable on smartphones.
Restaurants can have a lot of foot traffic where potential customers pick an establishment based on their smartphone search. As tourists are traveling through the Hudson Valley on Rte. 28 to Woodstock or on the Thruway for to a weekend of skiing, Hickory’s menus, photos, and directions are perfectly sized for easy viewing on a smart phone, making it more likely that people will stop by for a meal (by the way, their hush puppies are to die for!). If patrons can’t see on their smartphone what a restaurant has to offer, they will likely move on with their search.
Responsive design will become an industry standard and should be put into place for your next website design. However, the need for responsive design may be more pressing for some companies than others. If your company relies on foot traffic based on smart phone searches (Siri, where is the closest coffee shop?), then it is imperative that your website fits different sized devices. A quick way to evaluate how your site is being viewed is to check your website analytics to see what percentage of visitors are using smart phones and tablets. If it is a high percentage of total viewers and your site doesn’t have responsive design, the bounce rate is likely to be high and the average time on the site is likely to be low. Both unwanted results, indicating that viewers left your site out of frustration before getting to know what your company has to offer.