We all know it’s happening and that things are changing but how much do we really know about responsive website design? Or to put it simply a website that changes how it is displayed depending on the device or phone that you are viewing it on?

A changing landscape

If your website was developed more than 12 months ago, the chances are that it won’t be mobile optimised, not because your agency or web developer did anything wrong but because it’s pretty hard to develop websites for emerging technologies that we know little about or in many cases a technology that doesn’t exist yet.

Take the Apple iPad for example – it didn’t exist 3 years ago, that means there is no way your three year old website is going to be optimised for use on one. The same goes for iPhone, smart phones or any other new technology for online viewing. There simply wasn’t the ability a few years ago to develop a single website solution that works perfectly both on desktop browsers and on mobile devices.

Email campaigns are another example of how times have changed so quickly; roughly two years ago we saw average email opens on an Apple iPhone at just 2-5%. Last week we sent out an email campaign for a client to 17,000 recipients which saw a whopping 60% of the opens on an iOS device, which is a monumental difference! Two years ago we thought nothing of zooming in to view emails on our browser, now we don’t want to, we want instant access and instant visibility of our emails. If it’s not a responsive email template, there is a very high chance that it will be ignored or even deleted immediately without even being opened.

Now we have a whole new set of challenges for 2013

We’re pretty good now at mobile optimised websites and responsive theme design, mobile optimised email templates are also really accessible and easy to code with the right skill set and time. In fact I would question why you would ever send out an email campaign that isn’t responsive to mobile devices? The new questions we are all asking is should I have an app or will my optimised website be good enough? With app development costing on average £20k you need to ask what more does it offer over my responsive website?

This brings us onto Retina displays. How many of you have retina displays right now? I’m currently writing this on a Retina iPad and Apple are shifting units of these iPads at an unprecedented rate. The new Apple MacBooks also have retina displays. It’s not long before the remaining tech world jump on board and starts marketing their version of the Apple Retina display, so how do we develop for the new super high resolution world? 99.9% of the websites are not Retina responsive right now, delivering poor quality images when viewed on the retina device. Sure, the type looks awesome; beautiful even for us ‘typos’ who love typography, but unless the images are optimised, you almost feel robbed, albeit in an ‘ahead of the curve’ type of way.

To optimise for retina displays you need to have two versions of your images (as you can’t go adding massive images for ‘normal’ displays as it will unnecessarily slow the page down) and your pages need to respond to the display, much the same as it does the device for mobile devices.

With all these advancing technologies it’s hard to future proof your website but it does pay to understand your visitors. Understand what they view your site on or how they consume your content. Google Analytics will tell you how visitors are viewing your website and on what device. Just don’t ignore the data – if your users are going mobile, maybe it’s time you should be.

Contact Tann Westlake to find out about how we can help you with your new mobile site.