What is Responsive Web Design?

What is Responsive Web Design?

responsive web design

This year (2014) is the first time in history that mobile users have actually surpassed desktop/laptop users when accessing the internet.  In fact, according to CNN, in January  Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States.  This trend will only expand as new devices, such as Google Glass, are introduced and grow in popularity. 

Additionally, according to a recent Compuware survey, “57% of consumers will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Similarly, 40 percent of consumers will go to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.” Driving traffic to your website can difficult enough, so doing everything you can to increase visitor retention and engagement will be essential to your businesses success online.

 Mobile Web Design Options

The two most common options available when it comes to designing a mobile friendly website are Responsive and Mobilized.  Without boring you with too much detail, let’s discuss each briefly.

 Mobilized Web Design.

Mobilized Web Design

True to their name, mobilized websites are designed specifically for mobile devices.  However, there’s a twist.  Since mobilized websites were introduced prior to the rise in popularity of tablets, these sites are not optimized from these devices.  Choosing to go this route will significantly limit your ability to engage with all mobile users, since only a segment of these users will access your site on a traditional smart phone.  Additionally, over the past couple years, more and more devices have been introduced with larger & smaller screen sizes.  There are no guarantees that a mobilized website will display properly on all smartphones.

Another drawback is that since there are two versions of the website (m.domain.com & www.domain.com) the content on each of these sites can be seen by Google as duplicate, which can damage your ability to rank high in the search results.  All things being equal, a responsive website will outrank a mobilized site. In the image here, you’ll see an example of a mobilized website.

 Responsive Web Design

Responsive websites automatically change the layout of the page depending on the screen size of each user.  This website is an example of Responsive Design. To see it in action, simply resize your browser window by dragging the right hand edge of the window to the left, making the width smaller.  You’ll notice that elements on the page readjust automatically.  This is incredibly beneficial for ensuring all users enjoy an experience optimized for their unique device – regardless of screen size.

In addition to elevating your websites conversion rate by providing mobile users a rich experience, there’s more benefit to opting for a responsive solution. You’ll also receive more traffic to your website since Google rewards Responsive websites with higher rankings.  Since they encourage RWD as an industry best practice, it’s wise to choose this solution if you’re able.

With this in mind, if your website is older, and you don’t have the option of a complete redesign at this point, a Mobilized version of your website is better than nothing.  The bottom line is that in order to get the best return on your web design budget, you really need to cater to the growing mobile audience.  Failure to serve up optimized website content to the mobile market place will result in short-term and exponentially increased long-term revenue losses.

If you have any questions about your options as they relate to mobile web design, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  We’d be happy to explore these with you.


Example of Responsive Web Design


Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

  • avatar
    Sam Peters
    Posted at 20:26h, 30 July

    Responsive web design is definitely the way to go. No question.

  • avatar
    Louis Frank
    Posted at 10:25h, 30 July

    Is there any way to convert a non responsive website to responsive web design?

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 11:02h, 30 July

      Hi Louis,

      It really just depends on the platform you’ve built your site. For example, if your site is using WordPress, it could be as easy as installing a new theme. However, if your website was built using another platform, it might require a complete redesign. Feel free to get in touch – we’ll be happy to take a look at your site and let you know what your options are.

  • avatar
    Glenn S.
    Posted at 09:30h, 27 July

    My website was awesome… Like 5 years ago. With all the new devices people are using to access the internet now, I have basically given up trying to keep up. Responsive web design makes sense though if it’s going to automatically adjust to whatever device someone is viewing the site on. How much does Responsive Web Design cost?

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 19:13h, 28 July

      Hi Glenn,
      Yes, Responsive makes a ton of sense. Not only is it a good option for today, but it stands to reason that it’ll be around for a while. Answering your question about the cost of responsive web design is a little tricky. Every website is different and requires unique focus & functionality, so without understanding your specific needs it would be difficult to give you an accurate quote. Kind of like asking a home builder how much a house costs to build 🙂

      I will say, however, that our standard Responsive websites begin at around $2K. But again, I’d like to learn more about your unique needs before getting too specific. Please feel free to email me direct at jeff@brownboxbranding.com and we’ll discuss your specific goals and budget.

  • avatar
    Irvin Hatfield
    Posted at 14:57h, 22 July

    Well said. Thanks for clarifying this in a easy to understand way.

  • avatar
    George L.
    Posted at 05:26h, 30 May

    Very helpful info. My company is trying to figure out the best way to go with this. We had an Adwords campaign running recently and it totally bombed. Some of the feedback we got was that because our website wasn’t mobile friendly, a lot of the people who clicked on our ads quickly left the site. Have you ever experienced this? We were hoping to just add a mobile version of our website, but from what you’re saying, maybe it makes better sense to go with a responsive web design…

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 16:53h, 02 June

      Hi George,

      You bring up an excellent point. Whether you’re spending money on a PPC (Pay-Per-Click), SEO or Social Media campaign, you will always spend much more than necessary, and experience greatly reduced conversion rates, if your website is not mobile friendly. Think about it… With over half of the search traffic coming from mobile devices, a website that has an optimized mobile experience will always perform better. If 100 people click on your add, and 55 do so from a mobile device, a large percentage, say 70%, will bounce from your site if it’s not properly optimized for mobile. That means you lose 38 potential customers right there. If each click costs you $1, that’s $38 out of every $100 you flush down the toilet.

      Responsive Web Design is definitely the best choice when it comes to creating a mobile friendly experience. Since it automatically adjusts to the users screen, you never have to worry about your site becoming obsolete when new devices enter the marketplace. When it comes to Adwords, or any other online marketing campaign, it’s always best to lay a solid foundation with your website first. Building from there will be more efficient and cost effective, which means a much higher Return On Investment.

      Hope this helps!