Responsive web design has been a key feature in the success of a website’s performance for many years. Practically every website is sure to have some visitors using desktop and laptop web browsers while others reach the site via tablets and phones. The different screens obviously bring with them different requirements for a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing display, and responsive web design aims to make sure that a site works equally well across all platforms.
As Covid-19 vaccination rates increase and American consumers resume lifestyles that take them away from home more often than over the past two years, responsive web design can be expected to grow even more important. Greater mobility means greater usage of mobile phones, and that in turn means greater expectations regarding the availability and enjoyment of mobile websites.
Meanwhile, the fields of technology and web development have actually been pushed toward new innovations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and so the opportunities to make the most of responsive web design have only grown. Site owners should be prepared to have detailed conversations with their web service providers regarding marketing strategies, search engine optimization, and web design as all these things relate to the likelihood of increased demand for mobile websites.
Ideally, those conversations will address both the small and the large innovations that can be applied to responsive web design in order to make sure mobile users are getting the most out of the mobile version of the site.
From Basic Features of User Experience…
The small amplifications to responsive web design may be less exciting, but they are likely to have the most powerful impact on a user’s experience across multiple platforms. A professional web design firm should be capable of making such changes based on a constantly evolving understanding not only of how its clients’ visitors are using different versions of a website, but also how consumers use different versions of websites in general.
One bit of insight that may escape the attention of average site owners and yet seem obvious in retrospect is an observation about button positions. Well-designed mobile sites are sometimes described as “thumb-friendly” because they keep clickable content within reach of the average user’s thumb, on the expectation that they will at times be holding their phone in one hand and interacting with the site using only their shortest digit.
You can probably imagine how dramatic an impact this quality of responsive web design can have on user experience. You probably recognize that you would feel frustrated at having to awkwardly readjust your hand position while clicking between pages, or even involve your other hand in interacting with the website when you hadn’t planned to do so. If the information you’re seeking from that website isn’t essential, there’s a good chance that this frustration would cause you to click away.
Conversely, the sense of comfort that a user gets from interacting with a thumb-friendly mobile site is likely to not only keep them on the site but also leave them with a better impression of the site and the underlying brand as a whole. The user may never actually be conscience of the good design, but that is often the nature of good design, engineering, infrastructure, and so on: You don’t really notice them if there isn’t a problem. You make good use of them and don’t think twice.
Nevertheless, the unconscious impact of good responsive web design can be enough to affect a user’s mood. It’s easy to internalize the frustration that results from struggling to navigate a mobile website, and it’s just as easy to internalize the positive mental state that results from navigating a similar site very comfortably. Even if they’re not aware of it, users will come to associate those different mental sites with the different sites, and all other things being equal, the one with effective responsive web design will be the one that wins more return traffic across most if not all platforms.
…To Ultra-Modern Design Innovations
Once small improvements in responsive web design achieve their goal of securing repeat visitors, the site’s owner or digital marketing team can set to work promoting the more exciting features that designers may have built into each version of the site.
We’ve touched upon what some of these larger changes might look like in previous posts which discussed innovations brought on by the pandemic. We noted, for instance, that the upsurge in remote work had prompted some businesses and institutions to adopt practices like the use of virtual reality walkthroughs and 3-D animations provide visitors with a more intimate experience of their products, exhibits, or services, all while allowing them to remain in the comfort and safety of their own home.
While the above features are arguably best demonstrated on the larger displays offered by desktop and laptop computers, there are even more specific features which actually require a mobile version of the site. Responsive web design can thus open up consumers to entirely new branded experiences when they change their way of accessing the same site. While the desktop version might provide them with the most detailed look at, say, an item of furniture, the mobile version can request access to the camera on a customer’s phone and utilize augmented reality to show them what it would look like in the space they’re currently occupying.
These sorts of interactive elements are something that consumers are likely to expect more and more from modern websites. There are many other ways of achieving them, and there will inevitably be even more in the future. Whatever approach a web design company takes to them, its success will often depend on the company’s ability to make users feel comfortable enough with the minutest aspects of a website that they are ultimately willing to try out its more advanced features.
This sort of top-to-bottom attention to user experience is a key aspect of well-made responsive web design. So it’s a safe bet that if a web design company does equally well with both mobile and desktop design, it will be well-poised to adopt new and exciting innovations in both those areas.