4 Steps to Effective Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design

4 Steps to Effective Responsive Web Design

Now that the much-feared Mobilegeddon update is behind us, we know two things:

1. It’s not as devastating as everyone thought…

Entire industries were not destroyed, and even if they were, former Google head of webspam Matt Cutts isn’t around to blame anymore.

How to Identify the Impact of Mobilegeddon & Future Mobile Algorithm Updates

2. BUT Responsive design is still pretty darn important.

The rate of growth of desktop internet users over one year from 2014 to 2015 was 14% compared to the growth of mobile internet users, which was 137%.

Understanding the Importance of Responsive Web Design (Infographic)

Follow these 4 steps, and we’re sure your responsive design will be ready for a mobile-dominated Internet.

1. Just Do It Right… Anyway.

In the period after Mobilegeddon was announced, countless marketers rushed to convert websites into responsive versions. As it turns out, a simple fact rings true in web design that might seem familiar from other areas of marketing: If you don’t do it right, you might as well not do it at all.

  • What good is responsive design if a smartphone user cannot access the menu?
  • Do you really care about fitting everything on the screen if it means awkward and ugly cutoffs?

To be mobile-friendly, a website doesn’t just have to be responsive—it has to be effectively responsive. That means paying attention to UX factors as well as design concerns.

If you’re unfamiliar with UX, you can see it in action in this post and its corresponding video. The website was, essentially, disastrous on every critical UX level.

2. Consider the Content

As you probably know, a large part of what makes a website user-friendly is the way its content is presented. The same is true for responsive design.

A paragraph that seemed reasonably short on a 21-inch desktop monitor can suddenly turn into a wall of text on an iPhone 6.

Line breaks may begin to seem awkward, and pictures may not adjust to the screen. In addition to fitting your website framework onto every screen, you should make absolutely sure that the content fits those screens as well.

3. Menu Structure Matters

Similarly to content, your menu structure should make sense on every device. A desktop menu is usually pretty easy to navigate—the available horizontal and vertical space allows web designers to simply list the multiple items side by side or vertically.

But the same is not true on a mobile device; menus have to be configured differently—often using a “hamburger” setup, to ensure visitors can still find their way on a small screen. Especially if your site is larger and requires nested menus, you should ensure that they are still easy to navigate on a smartphone or tablet.

4. Testing, Testing, Testing

Regardless of whether you’re focusing on the content, the menu or the scope of your website, ensuring that it works on all devices is crucial. And the only way to do that is with legwork: Test your design, then testing it again.

Try a few simple, targeted testing tricks:

  1. Go as deeply into the site as you can on the smallest device you have, and see if you can find your way back out simply with menus.
  2. Navigate to a past blog post or other content-heavy site, and pretend you’re a first time reader.
  3. Or have various employees that might not be as familiar with your website simply go through the process and give you feedback.

Testing is the best and only way to ensure that your responsive website is actually effective. And whether Mobilegeddon was impactful or not, an effectively designed responsive website is absolutely crucial to your website’s success.

Photo Credit: Greyframe via Compfight cc

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Sarah Williams

Founder & director of 816 New York and passionate about all things strategy and unity.

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