As technology evolves, website design constantly changes because users want an optimal viewing experience. This article explains the history of websites in simple terms and why it’s so important today, to have a ‘Responsive’ website design.
The First Websites …
It’s about 15 years since small businesses started recognising the true potential of the web but 10 years ago many businesses still hadn’t put their products or services online. Today, it’s rare not to be online and the first thing most people think about when setting up a new company is getting their website sorted.
When websites were first launched they were built using ‘Fixed Width’ margins when programming the site design. This meant the width of a website page didn’t change on any computer, as the website was a set amount of pixels wide.
Everything Got Bigger!
Technology evolved and hardware got bigger. Fixed width websites worked well on 14 inch monitors but now everyone wanted 22inch screens, leaving websites looking small and skinny with lots of empty space either side. A solution was needed to fill all the empty space but developers had the challenge of remembering that not everyone had a big monitor yet!
That’s when developers got smart and introduced ‘Floating Margins’. This was a clever coding technique that didn’t use a fixed amount of pixels to determine the width of a website or image, instead it used percentages.
This meant a website could automatically expand to fit the size of the monitor the person was using. If a website contained 2 columns of information, one might use 70% and the other would use 30% of the space, filling up the full screen.
Instantly websites nearly doubled in size (on big monitors of course) and businesses filled the extra space with more content and images. A programmers new challenge was making the website look and feel the same on every computer and browser.
Now Everything is Smaller!
Now instead of bigger, it’s gone full cycle and everyone wants smaller! With the rapid adoption of Smartphones and Tablets, the number of people viewing websites on mobile devices is growing every year.
Businesses now have the challenge of meeting both demands, websites that can fill the space of massive desktop monitors but also shrink onto small mobile devices, without compromising the optimal viewing experience.
‘Fixed Width’ and ‘Floating Margins’ cannot deliver a positive website experience on mobile devices as the website is just reduced in size making text hard to read and menus difficult to navigate.
With mobile sales overtaking desktop sales in 2014, a solution was needed. Consumers wanted mobile friendly websites!
Today’s Responsive Websites …
That’s why ‘Responsive’ Website Design (RWD) was introduced. With a ‘Responsive’ design, every element of a website can change style, shape, position and size to compliment the device being used.
If your business relies on a website to generate income, then there are plenty of reasons to make sure you have a RWD.
Aside the importance of customer service and delivering an optimal user experience to your website visitors, another compelling argument is Google and the logic they use for determining what businesses appear at the top of their searches.
Google dominates the Search Engine industry, with approximately 70% of the market. They insist that ‘Responsive’ is the industry best practice and emphasise the importance of this through their ranking logic. The user experience plays an important part in how they decide to order their search results, so not having a RWD is potentially pushing you off the radar.
The higher you can appear in searches, the better chance you have of generating new leads. Everyday you continue to use an old website design, you’re potentially losing money!
Benefits of Responsive Design
- The text is readable, as it’s doesn’t shrink.
- You don’t have to scroll left and right to read the content.
- Buttons are clickable, as they are not too small.
- Mobile devices automatically have a custom navigation that’s easy to use.
- Images don’t lose their marketing power.
- The website works on all devices.
- The website works in all browsers.
- A responsive design will improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- One URL for mobile and desktop will improve SEO
- You don’t need a mobile version of your website.
- You don’t need to test your website on every device and browser.
- The flexibility to make quick changes through a Content Management System (CMS).