by John Eberhard

In my article last week on New Year’s Resolutions, I realized later that I should have included something on “responsive” web sites. The idea being that people should convert their web sites to being responsive this year. What is this and why is it important?

Wikipedia defines responsive web design as:

“Responsive web design (often abbreviated to RWD) is an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

There are a number of ways to accomplish a responsive web design. I convert the site to WordPress and use a customizable theme called Catalyst, which then allows the site to be responsive. Catalyst allows you endless customization, so you can create virtually any design, and you can convert virtually any site into WordPress via Catalyst. And all the new sites I am designing are responsive.

So when you have a web site that is responsive, people using pad devices or mobile smart phones can view your view without having to scroll from side to side. It takes the content of the site and sort of rearranges it so you can see most of it by just scrolling down the page, rather than back and forth. If you have a graphic that is wide, i.e. more than say 500 pixels, a person on a pad or mobile will still have to scroll from side to side to see that whole graphic. But for most content, the user won’t have to scroll from side to side.

So why is this important?

Well a lot of people are using pad devices and mobile phones today. I heard a statistic in the last year that 50% of all interaction that people are doing with social media sites are being done on a smart phone. So half of what people are doing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites, is being done on a mobile phone.

Especially if yours is a local business like a retail store, a restaurant, a home improvement business, or a health care practice, people may be trying to find you while they are out and about, and if your web site is mobile-friendly, that is going to be a plus, because the person can take greater advantage of the site while they are away from their desktop.

I saw something in the last year that predicted that desktop computers were going to soon be a thing of the past, with everyone doing their computing using pads and smart phones. I don’t agree and think that is taking it a bit too far. Certainly people are not going to do all their computing chores on the small screens. I like my big screen desktop, thank you very much. But it’s an indication that mobiles and pads are an important trend. And having your web site so it can easily be seen on a mobile is the first step in keeping up with that trend.