Responsive websites: challenges for businesses
Responsive design is one of the hottest web development processes around and essential for future-proofing your site. However, it can cause problems for businesses that don’t fully understand its potential.
A responsive website is one that registers which device is being used to view the site, and responds accordingly. This means that the same website can display content effectively and appropriately on a tiny phone screen (or a smart watch) and on a 50-inch TV. As a business, this means that you only have to build and maintain one website. Just one. You won’t need a mobile site, an iPhone app version of your site, a smart TV version, an Android optimized version or anything else. Just one site that works for everyone.
What’s the catch?
The main catch is that if you’re only going to have one site across all platforms, it needs to work well and to work for everyone. This typically means having some unconventional architecture behind the scenes, and sometimes unusual page layouts. Pushing design and technology forward is hugely exciting for those of us building the tools, but for businesses and customers it means change. And change can be scary, messy and expensive.
No. Ultimately, all websites will need to use responsive design principles or they won’t be able to serve their customers effectively. Twenty years ago, web pages were brand new. Today, over half of under 25s browse primarily from their smart phones. Each year, companies launch new phones, new TVs, new tablets, new computers, new games consoles, new e-readers, new watches, that are able to browse the web. And then people use them to shop online.
No web team can keep up with designing a new optimized site for each new platform so the site needs to automatically optimize itself for each new device it encounters. As customers switch between devices – reading a shop email on a smart phone, browsing on a tablet and buying on a computer or vice versa – they’ll insist on the having the same smooth experience on each device. If they don’t get it, they’ll shop elsewhere.
So what does that mean for me?
The good news is that businesses with relatively simple websites, including web shops, are at a major advantage over behemoths like Amazon or eBay. Creating a responsive website typically means rewriting sections of a site and changing design elements. When you’ve got thousands of products and millions of users, this is a nightmare, but for smaller companies it can be easy, particularly if you do it as part of a web design refresh or service upgrade.
Each business will have to balance up their needs and the current status of their web development before making the leap to responsive design, and small businesses have the power to be flexible and get ahead of the pack. At boxChilli Digital we can help you assess the need for a responsive website for your business.