Responsive web design is all the rage at the moment. The theory is that with the plethora of mobile devices you must have a website that looks good on any device it appears on; your web design must respond to the format imposed on it by the size of the device being used.
Of course, this is all good in theory. It sounds logical, of course, that you should design a website so that it looks good no matter what device it is used on. That is common sense.
However, with millions of websites and billions of resulting web pages not being responsive, mobile users face an uphill battle in trying to use the web effectively on their smartphone, or their iPad for instance.
There is a massive amount of pressure on business owners at the moment to make their sites “mobile friendly”. Indeed, web designers are out in force, offering to re-design sites so that they are mobile friendly and responsive.
Business owners are sucked into spending money because it all makes sense.
Except it doesn’t.
Once again, common sense is not always borne out by actual data. It turns out that the overwhelming majority of the time we are on our iPhone or iPads or any other mobile device is spent on entertainment – watching movies, listening to music and so on. The second most popular use of a mobile device is communication – checking messages, sending emails and so on. The research shows finding information, looking up websites and so on, is less than 10% of our activity on mobile devices. It is the least likely thing we are going to do.
What this means is that the whole “you must have a responsive website” push is actually about the tiniest proportion of mobile device usage – unless you are in the entertainment or communication business.
Clearly, it is sensible to have a website that displays well no matter what device it is used on. However, given that so little of our mobile screen time is spent looking at websites it means that for most businesses this is not the high priority that web designers might make you think. True, they are right – you should do it. But it is a question of priorities – responsive web design may not be the most important factor in boosting your website that you need to attend to.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+