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The Pros and Cons of Responsive Website Design

  • December 21st, 2012 at 6:51 pm
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  • Erin Pitkin
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  • No Comments

I use my mobile devices to browse the Internet, check email, watch videos, do my banking, online shop etc. Apart from work, I never look to my computer for any of the latter.

The move to using my mobile device for everything happened pretty quickly, and my mobile use will only increase as time goes on. We are in a mobile world. The introduction of tablets, smartphones and e-book readers has revolutionized how we use the Internet and how we communicate. It is predicted that by 2014, mobile internet usage will take over desktop internet usage. With this statistic quickly becoming a reality, businesses need to find a solution for optimizing their websites for mobile viewing. I am the kind of mobile internet user who will abandon a site immediately if it is not optimized for my viewing and usability – I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So how does a business go about converting their current website to be mobile friendly? There are several solutions on the table for mobile optimization, but for today, I’m going to focus on a fairly new and trendy concept – Responsive Website Design.

Responsive design uses fancy code and clever design to create one site that expands and contracts to fit all screen sizes and resolution. Sounds like a fantastic solution, but it does have its pros and cons, I have outlined some of them below.

Pros of Responsive Web Design

No need for multiple sites – Having a single version of a website that works on every screen width and device is a pretty great deal. It will not only be beneficial for the users, it will also be easier to maintain with only one update necessary for all versions of the site.

Better user experience – No more zooming, side scrolling and broken links – the user receives an optimized experience based on their device.

Get all the content – It is a common frustration, when accessing a mobile website to be denied some of the information from the PC version. With responsive design, all of the information is there, it is just displayed differently.

Better site tracking – If you are redirecting users to a mobile-friendly version of your website, your stats are going to be split between the two, which could make for difficult analysis and reporting.

Cons of Responsive Web Design

More expensive to set up – Building a responsive website has its complexity. There is more time needed for design and implementation which can make the start-up costs fairy high.

Slow load time and extra data – Mobile users will be downloading unnecessary HTML/CSS code (not a huge deal) and most of the time, images are simply scaled down, NOT resized — negatively impacting the load-time and expensive data usage (bigger issue).

Design limitation – Due to the functionality of responsive design, this can limit the options for design, if you want something specific, it might not be the best fit for your website.

It’s a new idea – Since responsive design is still relatively new, there are still kinks that need to be worked out and discoveries to be made. Jumping on board now could mean having to update later.

Recently the Windsor Star transitioned into Responsive Design.

I love the idea of any kind of mobile optimization. Responsive design seems like a great solution to the existing problem of presentation of websites across multiple devices, however, it might not be the best solution for all sites. The best thing to do is weigh all the options and pick the one that best fits your websites objectives.

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