Going Mobile: Responsive Web Design Tutorial

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Fingers on iphone: Responsive Web Design TutorialIf you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you may already be way behind most of your competition. Just consider the stats — one in three people visit a website using their mobile device, and the numbers continue to soar. The good news is, it’s not that difficult to create or convert your current website into a responsive website design. What is responsive web design? Simply put, responsive is a way to design your website so that it automatically looks good on any mobile device. There are a number of ways to achieve a responsive website, and the benefits to your business or blog are huge.

What Are the Benefits of Responsive Design?

You may not realize that responsive design brings many more benefits to your company than just looking good on all devices. Below are some of the benefits you can expect from implementing a responsive website design.

An Increase in Sales and Revenue

A growing number of consumers are not only shopping online, but they also shop using their mobile devices. A recent report from L2 found that nearly 70% of global consumers (ages 18-39) with higher household incomes ($75,000-$99,000) use their smartphones to browse (and potentially purchase) products. Another 44% used tablets to research products.

Strengthening Your SEO

With one responsive designed website, instead of several for each device you’re targeting, your search engine optimization (SEO) becomes much more powerful when compared to your competing websites. So, when your target audience does a search online, you’ll be more prominent than your competitors.

Google, Google, Google

There’s no question that Google is the dominant search engine and drives a majority of users to websites. And, on April 21, 2015, Google instituted their new ranking priorities — responsive design websites that are mobile friendly will rank higher in searches than other websites. As an added bonus, responsive web design helps reduce page loading time, giving you an additional edge on your competition.

A Decrease in Duplicate Content

Did you know that Google actually penalizes you in their search rankings for having duplicate content within your website? If you have multiple web pages created for smartphones, tablets and desktop, Google considers the second and third version as spam-like content, and you may get lowered in the ranks. But if you have a responsive web design with only one version of each page, you only have one website that has unique content throughout.

Easier Analytics

If you’re using a program, like Google Analytics, to track your website’s visitors and capture information about your audience, having one responsive website that feeds to all devices makes your analysis much easier, faster and more useful. Instead of tracking multiple websites, your software has one site to analyze and can determine which device is driving more opportunities, should this matter to your business.

Saving Money and Time on Web Development

Although you may spend a bit more to convert your website into responsive design, in the long run you’ll save money on paying your web developers and managers to update each separate website and web page whenever you have changes. This is crucial money and time you can devote to other marketing endeavors.

How Do You Switch to Responsive Design?

Before you delve into switching your existing site over to responsive design, there are some factors you need to consider, including time, cost, the design and development process, content, user readability, load-time and more. Fortunately you have several options, depending on how you weigh the factors for your business.

Use Responsive Website Templates

The easiest and perhaps most efficient way for most is to go with a responsive design template (also called a theme). Responsive design templates come with most components in place, and you choose colors, styles and other front-end needs for your website. Some templates are free to download online, but you won’t get as much customization and sophistication with free templates. A fairly inexpensive alternative (much cheaper than paying a web developer!), is to go with a website template service. There are some amazing responsive design templates available for purchase online, and you’ll end up with a polished, professional looking website. See our article, Best Website Templates, for our top choices and reviews of the best template services online.

Start From Scratch

If you have an intermediate knowledge of web development, it might be best to create the perfect responsive website yourself from scratch using HTML code, CSS stylesheets and media queries and JavaScript. There are a ton of free online tutorials that target everyone from beginners to advanced web developers and cover everything from basic coding to typography to embedding responsive videos on your site. A good place for intermediate developers to start is Lingulo’s Responsive Design Series, How to Build an HTML5 Website from Scratch.

Build Upon a Framework

Another route to take is to use a responsive design framework, which essentially is like a basic foundation of CSS and JavaScript that you build upon for your website. Most online frameworks are free to download, open-source and easy to customize. The most popular frameworks, which have solid reputations, are Foundation and Bootstrap. Both frameworks have already been tested in most popular browsers, including IE 9 and up, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. And both Foundation and Bootstrap have all the downloadable CSS and Javascript files you’ll need to fully customize your responsive website. Frameworks still require some knowledge of web development, so if you’re a novice, you may want to go the template route.

Responsive Design Examples

Want some examples of templates that are responsive? We’ve reviewed several templates (that you can obtain and apply to your site) that specialize in different categories (SEO, ecommerce, etc.) in our responsive web design examples article. There’s also a video that gives you a quick overview on responsive web design and how it helps engage your readership.

What in the World Is “Mobilegeddon?”

We can’t emphasize enough the impact that Google’s algorithm update (as we discussed above) has on your website’s search rankings. The following video by Bloomberg Business highlights the importance of Google’s new practice, coined “Mobilegeddon” in the industry.

Get Ahead of the Game

Your website is one of your business’ strongest marketing tools, and if you’re committed to your customers and staying a step ahead of your competition, don’t wait to implement a mobile friendly website. As reported in the Bloomberg video above, the number of website searches on smartphones and tablets is expected to equal searches conducted using desktop or laptop computers by 2018. To stay competitive in today’s market, it’s best to get ahead of the game.

What method would you recommend for going mobile with a website?

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