If you have no mobile optimization, you need it now, because worldwide mobile browsing already represents over 30% of traffic, and that number is only going to grow. Luckily, whether building a brand new website or updating an old one to a modern design, Responsive Web Design is quick to implement and easy to manage. For the creation of the site, we’ll assume you’ll be working with an experienced responsive design company to build the site.
Step 1: Wireframe design concepts. Before you commit to creating the actual designs, the first step is to build multiple mock-ups and evaluate how they will serve you based on the content you hope to deliver. These are quick to build, flexible, and let you iterate on your ideas until the sire starts to take shape. Wireframing and settling on a design concept that fits your goals should only take a day or two to complete.
Step 2: Create/Adapt Content. Once the design is put together, you get to fill in the blanks—write real website copy to replace the dummy text, put in graphics and images that make it pop. If you are adapting an old website to the new design, you’ll need to adapt the content. Often old sites have larger text blocks that need to be trimmed down or broken up for easier consumption on the small screen. Content in general should be designed primarily around small screens, because scaling that up to a big screen doesn’t hurt the user experience, whereas scaling big screen content down to a small screen leads to user frustration. Take inspiration from mobile apps to see what a modern interface should feel like—use images and quick text blurbs to quickly convey messages, offer large tappable links that are easy to use, and if you have a lot of content, separate it out by categories so that there is never too much info on a single page.
Step 3: Test it. Run it through the QA process both before you go live and after. Test it on several device and browser combinations to make sure the responsive elements are working correctly. The website will be the face of your company, so do thorough testing to make sure your first impressions are flawless.
Step 4: Content management. CMS on a responsive site is pretty much like managing any other site. Responsive Designs use a single source for delivering content to all users, just like any old site, it just does it in a smart way that uses CSS to rearrange and adapt the design for smaller displays. Swapping in new content is simple and the responsive design ensures that all of your visitors are served the same experience.
For a quick example of the advantages of RWD, imagine Person A operates a desktop and a mobile version of their website, and they want to update their main banner for the holidays. To do this, they design the new banner, and place it into the live website (through whatever CMS they are using). After that, they have to do each step again for the mobile site. Meanwhile Person B with a single-URL responsive site does half the work to accomplish the exact same goal. Extrapolate that out to every aspect of website management, and you start to see how valuable RWD’s single URL can be.
Step 5: SEO. SEO activities are no different for RWD than for other websites. RWD is accounted for in Google’s ranking algorithm, but normal SEO will still be needed to ensure your site is ranked well. HTML tags, back links, keywords, and other SEO-focused elements all function exactly the same way they do in a non-responsive page, so there shouldn’t be any disruption to existing SEO teams.
If you used to have separate mobile and desktop sites, SEO actually gets a lot easier with RWD, because you no longer have to optimize both sites or deal with all the redirects or worry about canonicalization on the duplicated content.
Step 6: Expanding and updating. If you need to add new pages of content, it’s easy enough for your web design company to provide template pages that you can use. With a little bit of web design knowledge you can plug in the templates and load them up with content yourself. If you aren’t confident in your own ability to perform those changes, it’s a quick and cheap job, so you won’t break the bank by hiring someone to help. Similarly, as time goes on, there may be more substantial changes you want to make in order to keep your site up to date with modern trends. Again, whether you do it yourself or hire a web design company, the process is pretty simple and is certainly worth the investment to offer a better experience to visitors.
Overall, Responsive Web Design provides a lot of benefits in streamlining your website, both for your back end management as well as for the multi-device user experience. It’s the preferred web design standard these days, with major search engines Bing and Google both recommending it.
Ultimately the most important thing to know about modern web design is that mobile browsing is growing, representing a larger percentage of website traffic every day. Mobile web optimization will be a key factor in determining the ongoing success of any online business, and responsive web design is the modern solution for the mobile web.