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Responsive websites lead to responsive customers

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Written by Kevin Plankey
On the
Responsive websites lead to responsive customers

The other day, I was talking to friends of mine who are higher-ups at local small businesses.

We started off discussing how quickly the mobile revolution has taken off, and eventually got to the topic of mobile websites. When I asked them if their companies had designed one, I was shocked at the answer I received:

"A mobile website?" my friend responded in a dumbfounded manner. "We haven't updated our website in at least two years."

Two years! I couldn't believe that.

If your company also hasn't updated its website recently, then chances are you haven't developed a responsive site. And if you don't have a responsive site, then chances are you're probably losing out on a whole bunch of customers.

"This is something you should probably get on the bandwagon with," Craig Lamb, co-owner of computer programming firm Envative, recently told the Democrat and Chronicle. "If you haven't considered it, you're probably already behind."

Lack of knowledge
The news outlet recently interviewed several industry experts, and their reactions weren't all that different from mine.

For instance, Daniel Bogaard, associate professor of information technology at Rochester Institute of Technology, said he "would be surprised in a year or two from now if anybody's rolling out anything that isn't responsive design." Meanwhile, Frank Piacitelli, digital creative director for Martino Flynn, said that people who create a website for small businesses and don't implement a responsive design are "kind of crazy."

While I wouldn't take it as far as Piacitelli, I'm still curious as to why anyone would choose not to develop a responsive site. Apparently, one of the biggest barriers right now is that many people don't really understand what it is.

Vocab time: Defining the responsive website
Before we touch on the benefits of a responsible website design, let's get into the particulars about what exactly it entails.

In simple terms, responsive websites automatically adapt to the size of the screen that the site is being viewed on. That way, it won't matter if your customers view your website on a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone or even one of those now old-fashioned things called computers.

Seems simple enough, right?

There's obviously more to it than that. For example, responsive web design allows you to take other factors into consideration. You can customize features like mouse versus touch screen, or even allow for the use of both. You can also program your site to have fewer graphics or video for mobile platforms, which will lead to faster load times.

The right kind of traffic
Leakage is one of the biggest issues small businesses run into regarding their websites. It's an even bigger problem for companies that have yet to optimize their sites for mobile platforms - which, as we've established, is a lot of them.

Designing a responsive website would make that problem go away.

"We decided to go with the responsive web design because of its agility, its ability to make updates on the fly," Brad Preston, owner of AES Scout & Recruit, told the Democrat and Chronicle. "We don't lose any features or functions from the desktop to the phone or iPad."