What Does It Mean For a Website to Be “Responsive”?



A responsive website design displays differently based on the user’s screen size and aspect ratio. Usually, this means smaller screens and larger screens will display the same information but at a size and arrangement that is easier to navigate and read based on their dimensions.  

As web users spend more and more time online in various capacities, utilizing responsive web design is an essential step in attracting and keeping visitors. Let’s take a look at what responsive design means and examine in greater detail why it’s crucial for users and businesses alike. 

How Responsive Design Works

You can customize your website display based on your code to recognize the device through which your page is being accessed and adjust aspect ratio and on-page elements accordingly. CSS files, for example, dictate how to organize information and media displayed.

Usually, this means using an alternate set of CSS files to organize the elements of a page differently. Alternative arrangements benefit mobile devices like tablets or smartphones, whose dimensions are rarely in proportion with standard desktop monitors or laptop screens. Without responsive design, your website may appear crowded to these users, with text overlapping media elements, difficult navigation, and shrunken elements.

Website developers craft layouts to fit the most common mobile dimensions, then code their websites to use those layouts when mobile users visit. A page can have any number of responsive designs that trigger different browsers, screen sizes, or both, but many pages use one responsive design for all mobile devices.

Why Is Responsive Design Important?

How we interact with web pages has changed a lot in the past ten years. When computers (and eventually, the internet) became prevalent in homes, desktops dominated the market. Monitor sizes mainly stayed the same across manufacturers, so website development wasn’t concerned with multiple displays. What’s more, our only means of input were the mouse and keyboard combination, so interactivity was minimal.

The smartphone changed all of that. Different aspect ratios and touchscreen inputs significantly altered how users could view pages. As the number of mobile web users grew, these devices changed what users expected. Sites with responsive design started as a convenience but soon became the expected norm. Websites that weren’t catering to these users were antiquated as responsive web design development became the norm.

As a business, you want your web design to appeal to users on both desktop and mobile, and responsive design is the only way to do this. Rather than build one design that appeals to both, you can create different layouts for each type of user.

Essential Functions of Responsive Web Design

There’s more to responsive website development than rearranging the visual elements of your page. While that’s great for maintaining your page’s clarity, a design should try to integrate other functions unique to mobile devices. Users have come to expect these, and implementing them gives your website more appeal. Consider these features:

  • Location-specific data. It’s rare for a mobile phone not to integrate GPS functionality. When users search for services or products, they may get more detailed information if a page they visit can detect their location. Businesses that make deliveries or have walk-in hours benefit the most from this functionality.
  • One-click contact. Everyone is familiar with links that open an email client ready to send a new message. With most mobile devices being phones, similar connections can automatically dial a phone number when selected. Getting to skip manually entering a phone number may seem like a small thing, but users appreciate anything that speeds up the process.

How Responsive Design Helps You

Appealing to visitors is vital for a business, but responsive design has a much more significant benefit in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Major search engines like Google will look at a website’s design as a factor in determining its rank in search results. Websites with responsive designs receive higher SEO rankings (other factors notwithstanding) because they appeal to a broader range of users.

With Google directing as much traffic as it does, website developers can’t afford to overlook this benefit of responsive design. Even the best website design can lose ground in search results if it doesn’t implement a responsive design. Unlike other search engine optimization methods, this change is simple to implement and doesn’t require monitoring. 

Don’t Build Your Site Alone

Creating a custom website for your business seems as easy as using Google. 

When you search “create your website,” you’ll find results that include everything from a list of platforms to build on as well as courses available for those who want to do it all on their own. 

But designing a website for your business takes time, experience, and a creative eye. 

  • What elements should you include if you want to generate leads? 
  • Does this website reach the audience you want? 
  • Is the design eye-catching, and will it bring in a solid consumer base? 
  • Is the message of your business clear? 

It may seem like it’s going to be easy to create a website yourself — but almost every customer we have ever had that has tried to do it alone regrets it. It always takes longer than they think it will, and the result is never what they hoped for.

At Bhirst Media, we have experience building websites for various customers and a variety of different needs. We understand what it takes to build a website that looks good, is optimized for search engines, and is designed for lead generation.

You don’t have to try and do this alone — let us help. Check out our website design, development, and website care plans today. 


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