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Things you need to think about when making your website responsive

If you haven’t already made your website ‘responsive’ then you need to be thinking about doing so. Simply put, a responsive site is one that can be viewed effectively on all devices – mobile, tablet, desktop and laptop.

An often quoted bit of industry research predicts that internet usage via mobile phones will overtake desktop usage in 2014. We are not far away from this becoming fact – in the UK, 25% of all web traffic comes from mobile-only users, while in developing countries it’s over 70%.

What we do know here at Varn is that, depending on the market, making a website mobile friendly makes a huge difference to its’ traffic and conversion rates. So in this blog we will run through the things that you need to think about when creating an effective and professional mobile version of your website:

  • User needs. Very probably a user accessing your site from a mobile will have a different need and goal than one using a desktop. They may well be on the move with limited fine motor skills, and have less time and patience to spend browsing for the information they want. They probably don’t want to read a lot of text or have to move between lots of different pages. Be clear on how you want to structure your website for mobile users – if you are starting from scratch with a new site and your target market employs mobile access, use the mobile version of your site as a design starting point and build from there, rather than the other way round.  
  • Smaller screen sizes. Mobile devices vary in size from small phones to large tablets so screen sizes and resolutions are very different. For example, a Samsung Galaxy S3 has a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels at 306 pixel per inch (ppi) while the new iPad has a screen resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels and a 264 ppi. Having a responsive website is the most flexible and convenient way for you to cater to all devices – present and future.
  • Touch- and type-ability.  Mobile users will navigate your site using their fingers or stylus pens and won’t have a keyboard. This can present usability problems if you haven’t created buttons and links that are big enough to be easily pressed on small screen views or you require them to fill in lengthy registration forms to access levels of your site.
  • File sizes.  Mobile users who have a 3G or 4G connection (or less!) will find large images and logos annoying so they should not exceed 2KBs otherwise they will take longer to upload on mobile networks.
  • Content visibility. Although a responsive site means that content remains the same between large and small devices you will still need to prioritise what information is displayed in smaller spaces for all pages – not just the homepage. Try and keep your key features consistent.
  • Testing. Try and get hold of as many different mobile devices as possible to test your responsive site on. They literally come in all shapes and sizes.

With a responsive website, whilst the layout changes, the content stays the same and this means that any changes you make to your website will automatically be up-to-date across all different devices. Your website will have a consistent look and functionality for all users, so if someone moves from desktop to mobile usage they can still build a relationship with your site based on familiarity. And you can put all your time and effort into one site. It also helps with SEO as you will only have one set of URLs that the search engines have to index.

For any more advice on mobile internet usage or responsive websites please give us a ring on 01225 863047.