Understanding your customers is important to reaching them. So, with that in mind, we should have a fairly good idea of how responsive web design affects our marketing and customer acquisition. More specifically, we should know the effects of our mobile culture on our bottom line.
At this point, we all know that sites should be mobile-friendly, but what is the difference between mobile and responsive? Before we had responsive web design, many design companies used a sub-domain for the mobile website and built it independently from the regular website. This was in the days when we all saw URLs that looked like: “m.domain.com.” While this did fix the issue of making websites look good on most phones, it did not solve other issues, such as tablets and hundreds of varying screen widths.
Another issues with the sub-domain method was sharing, particularly on social media. If I shared a link from a browser and you opened it on your phone, you would still sometimes get the pinch and zoom experience. This is partly due to the fact that a sub-domain is a separate entity from the actual domain and they have different file systems.
Responsive fixes both problem areas. Because responsive web design queries the device to get the screen width, it doesn’t matter what size the device is, it should still display correctly. As a screen gets wider, the site is programmed to lay elements out differently and there are multiple width limits that trigger different configurations. Due to the fact that the site is only using one domain for cross-platform-compatibility, sharing is not an issue anymore.
As a disclaimer, there are still some popular sites that use a mobile sub-domain (such as Facebook). They have used code to detect the device type and display the mobile version on mobile phones. This works to a degree, but at the time of this writing, if I make the browser too thin, it will hide some of the content and not realign. Also, they still are not utilizing the left and right sides of the screen on wider devices. So, there is a lot of dead space that could be used to better engage users. While this may be by choice, older non-responsive sites also do not utilize screen space well.
There are multiple statistics for the growth of mobile in today’s society. I am going to give 3 here:
Based on these statistics and what we know of the importance of being mobile-friendly, lets ponder some questions: