Home // Driving Business Growth With Responsive Web Design: Why It Matters and How to Get There

What’s the big deal about responsive web design, anyway? Do users really care if a site’s mobile-friendly? The answer is a resounding, “Yes”. The numbers bear it out: 61% of users are unlikely to return to a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, with 40% visiting a competitor’s website instead. Clearly, responsive web design is essential for capturing and converting potential customers, and driving customer loyalty. It’s no wonder an estimated 1.71 billion websites are now responsive, accounting for 90% of all websites.

Responsive web design defined.

So when did responsive become a thing? The term responsive web design goes way back to 2010, when Ethan Marcotte, a web designer, speaker and author, created the term and approach. As for what makes a website responsive, technically speaking, a responsive website serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device, and can display the content differently based on the screen size.

Simply put, the website’s layout and content adjust automatically to fit the screen size of the user’s device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. This way, there’s no broken text or need for to zoom in to easily view a page. An adaptive website will also take into account whether the user is using a touchscreen, to further optimize the user experience. Responsive-designed sites also make it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for, which in turn, encourages them to stay on the site longer and come back again—and again. And that can add up to more subscribers and loyal customers.

Good for the bottom line.

Let’s talk about ROI. Your website is a lead generation tool that can drive visitors from the top of the funnel down. Whether it fits at the start of the funnel when you’re just sparking interest, the middle where you guide the consumer, or toward the end where you drive conversions, responsive web design must fit into a marketing strategy. That’s because responsive design pays off—literally.

Forbes found that 67% of users are more likely to make a purchase if the website is mobile-friendly. A mobile-friendly site can capture more qualified visitors, according to a recent survey. A properly mobile-optimized web page can give 30% more sales, 40% increase in unique page views, 50% decrease in bounce rates, and over 70% increase in overall products sold.

Want another reason why mobile website design is key? The number of web visits from a mobile device outweighs those from desktops, with 67.81% of the total web visits currently mobile, compared to 32.19% coming from desktops. So mobile isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. In fact, it’s taking over.

Google likes mobile website design—a lot.

Here’s another reason why responsive design is king. In 2016, Google started to move sites over to mobile-first indexing, which looks at the mobile version of your website for its ranking. Google fall backs on the desktop version when there is no mobile version. In May 2023, Google confirmed those efforts are now done, and the last batch of sites eligible for mobile-first indexing have been moved over. Why does this matter to you?

While it’s not required that you have a mobile version of your pages to have your content included in Google’s Search results, you’d be doing your business a big disservice if you don’t. According to Search Engine Journal, “Google favors websites that are optimized for mobile devices and have adopted a mobile responsive web design.” A staggering 93% of global traffic comes from Google, reaching billions of people searching for information, products, and services online. Google had a market share of around 96% on smartphones in 2022. What business could afford to lose out on these potential customers?

Of course, customer satisfaction is also about timing. Google found that nearly half of all website visitors will leave if your site doesn’t load in three seconds. A responsive site quickly leads browsers to the product or service they’re searching for. This seamless user experience can lead to significantly higher conversions.

Responsive website design blog. Vector images of multiple screens including a desktop computer, laptop, phone and tablet.

Also consider this: speed counts when it comes to rankings. Google prioritizes speed, giving fast sites an advantage over sites that take longer to load. Pages that meet a certain speed threshold can benefit from a ranking boost in Google’s search results. How is speed measured? It’s the time it takes for a page to load after a user clicks on the link on a search engine results page (SERP). And how’s this for an added benefit? Mobile-responsive websites load faster on both mobile and desktop devices. 

Another Google advantage—a mobile-responsive version of your website eliminates duplicate content, since you create a single version of your website. This prevents URL duplication across two versions of your site, and confusing Google as to what content to prioritize.

The importance of look and feel.

 Of course, with any website—responsive or not— the importance of good design can’t be overstated. Your website represents your business. An attractive site—especially one that’s easy to use and navigate—leaves a good impression and can add up to sales. According to a study by WebFX, 75% of users judge a business’s credibility based on its website’s design. On the other hand, a study by Forbes found that 38% of users won’t even engage with a website if its layout is unattractive. Did you now that 57% of users won’t even recommend a business with a poorly designed website. So a responsive website must also be well designed—visually.

Basics of responsive website development.

Now let’s look at what developers consider when creating a responsive website. Cross-platform consistency is key for responsive web design. As Medium put it, “Cross-platform consistency is the practice of designing UIs that look and behave the same way, regardless of the device or platform they are being used on.” Consistency also includes functionality, features, interaction design and branding. With cross-platform consistency in place, the same look and feel helps create—and strengthens—brand recognition. Equally important, users don’t have to figure out how to use your app or website.

The following are just some of the basic ways developers can transform a static website—or a site built from the ground up—into a responsive website. Designers use techniques such as fluid grids, flexible images and media query breakpoints to adjust to different screen sizes. Fluid grids provide a visual way to create different layouts corresponding to devices on which the website is displayed. Flexible images, also called adaptive images, provide image solutions with no fixed display size restrictions, so they can be resized easily. Lastly, media query breakpoints allow the developer to create different layouts depending on the size of the viewport—the user’s visible area of a web page—which can also be used to detect other things about the environment your site is running on, e.g., whether the user is using a touchscreen rather than a mouse.

Developers also take into account the content, prioritizing it and ensuring that the most important information is displayed first, regardless of the device it’s being viewed on. And they make the website touch responsive, even considering the size of the buttons so they’re designed for human fingers and easily accessible. While there’s much more that goes into the making of a responsive website, these give you a good idea of the basics—today. In the future, we may see artificial intelligence and machine learning playing a role in optimizing the user experience based on device and user behavior.

Is your website responsive?

Let’s talk about your website. Just how responsive is it—if at all? A leading responsive web design provider like Hammer Marketing can help test to see how pages are viewed on a mobile device. If they’re not performing well, Hammer can ensure your website is custom designed, responsive for mobile and with technical SEO built in. Case in point: Hammer developed a responsive website that introduced the HandsFree Health brand and showcased Wellbe®, the company’s flagship product. The result was an experience that takes the consumer through the features of the product with a dynamic layout, modern interface, and custom photography.

Undoubtedly, responsive website design is imperative for any business to not only compete, but dominate, in any marketplace—today and tomorrow. If you’re looking to boost your online presence, reach out to Hammer for mobile-responsive testing and a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.