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What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach of structuring and coding a website such that the website provides an optimal viewing experience — ease of reading and navigation with a minimum amount of resizing, panning, and scrolling.
This ease of reading and navigation across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
Why is Responsive Web Design important?
The different number of devices, platforms, and browsers that your site needs to work with is constantly changing day to day.
Responsive Web Design ensures that no matter what your website will be viewable to everyone regardless of their platform.
Here are 3 of the top reasons to have a website that is responsive:
1. Excellent User Experience
While, content is king and discoverability of content are foremost success metrics, it is the user experience that enables visitors to consume content on any website through the device of their choice and preference, anytime.
Thus, responsive web design is about providing the optimal user experience irrespective of whether they use a desktop computer, a smartphone, a tablet or a smart-TV.
Responsive web design accommodates the busy professional during the day and the wide-awake college student needing access to your site anytime. No scrolling or resizing is needed for any visitor to access your website from their favorite device.
2. Cost Effective
The advantages of having a single site that conforms to the need of all devices are significant when compared to having two separate websites. One website costs less than two, and the savings can be substantial.
Sites designed solely for mobile device traffic don’t offer the advanced navigational techniques found in traditional websites, and they also require the user to maintain two separate web addresses for your site.
This is inconvenient for most people and can cause them to check out the competition’s website. Responsive web design enhances SEO efforts by having all your visitors directed to a single site no matter what they prefer to use as a device.
3. It’s Recommended By Google
With 67 percent search market share, when Google speaks, search marketers listen.
Google states that responsive web design is its recommended mobile configuration, and even goes so far as to refer to responsive web design as the industry best practice.
This is because responsive design sites have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, which makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content.
Contrast this with a separate mobile site which has a different URL and different HTML than its desktop counterpart, requiring Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site.
Additionally, Google prefers responsive web design because content that lives on one website and one URL is much easier for users to share, interact with, and link to than content that lives on a separate mobile site.
Take for example a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on Facebook who then accesses that content using a desktop, which results in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop.
This creates a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is now placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is essential to take into account with regards to SEO.