Responsive Web Design is an approach where the designer and developer consider the user experience across all screen widths. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and big televisions that can connect to the internet. You can test the ‘responsiveness’ of a page you like by reducing the window size as shown above. A study published on Mashable has already predicted that by 2015, the mobile usage will exceed desktop usage making it extremely important for you to take care of your mobile users.
You can make your website mobile friendly in three (that I can think of) different ways.
- Having a separate website: like m.example.com for mobile users where your mobile content is hosted and serving a more mobile friendly content from this url. Your data stays synchronized as you connect both desktop and mobile websites to the same database.
- User agent detection: this technique lets you serve a different theme for your mobile users. All urls stay the same but different html is served to different devices.
- Responsive Web Design: serves the same html to all users with from same url but this content can respond when the screen size changes.
Responsive Web Design is the most advocated technique of handling mobile friendliness since it requires the least effort in maintenance and is most SEO friendly. If you think about it, hosting a separate mobile site: m.example.com practically means that you have to optimize and keep an eye on the health of two websites. First two techniques I have mentioned above also require you to have a very good user agent detection mechanism in place and unfortunately, the variety of devices being produced is only going to increase. Smartphones, dumb phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and smart televisions. There’s no limit to the amount of agents that are going to be accessing your page.
Things to consider while creating a responsive website (or choosing a responsive theme).
Responsive websites are pretty low maintenance but there are a few things that you should be careful about when you are choosing a theme for your website. I have listed two of the most critical factors to help you when you are choosing from a big selection of themes.
- Responsiveness on different devices – This involves extensive testing on all devices. If you have hired a developer to build a theme, make sure you build it considering mobile and tablet platforms before you go towards the desktop and laptops. If you are buying a theme, load the theme demo on mobile devices and see how user friendly it is.
- Pageload time – Speed is a very important factor these days from crawlers’ point of view. Most of the Search Engines will prioritize another page that offers similar services but loads quicker. Fortunately, you can test the speed of your theme (demo url) using tools like pingdom, GTMetrix and Google’s pagespeed insights. Google pagespeed insights also suggests the measures that you can take to increase the pagespeed of your website.
I do not like themes with a lot of features. Main reason being, all of those scripts load on all pages of your website. Even if it is a small page with very less content. Most of the times you won’t even use all those fancy features. I prefer lightweight themes instead. These themes load with a lightning fast speed and make sure that your visitors’ stay on the site is not a painful one. If you have any concerns or questions, I would be pleased to address them in the comment section below.
Feel free to share your favorite responsive websites and themes in the comment sections below.