Advancements made in mobile technology over the last decade have completely changed the way small businesses market themselves. Gone are the days when you looked up the town’s top plumber in the yellow pages to fix your leaky faucet. And not too many people read the local newspaper in search of the hottest new restaurants anymore either. Instead, smartphones and tablets are the way of the browsing future. And websites that are mobile-responsive are a necessity for business owners.

As someone who might be new to the world of web development and web design, you may be wondering what it means to be mobile-responsive. If you’ve gone to a site on your phone that’s just a shrunken down version of the desktop website, this is the difference between mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive. However, if you’ve ever found yourself scrolling mindlessly through a website on your phone without noticing any change in functionality — that’s it; that’s mobile-responsiveness.

What does this mean for your website? And what is responsive web design? Here we will answer these questions and more:

What is responsive design?

In a nutshell, a website is considered mobile-responsive when it works equally well on a mobile phone or tablet as it does on a laptop or home desktop computer. That seems simple, right? 

Well, in principle, it is! 

However, so is hopping into a space shuttle and visiting the moon. In principle, you just have to hop in the spaceship and point it in the right direction, but we all know it’s a little more complicated than that. Just like a moon landing, there is a whole lot going on behind the scenes to make a mobile-responsive website.  

That’s where website builders come in, like the one offered by Constant Contact. (Our A.I.-powered site builder is the equivalent of the rocket scientists in this analogy.)

Screen Size

The conversation starts with screen size. 

When building your website to fit a full-size desktop monitor or a similarly large laptop monitor, you can include a whole bunch of text and images on one page without having to worry if people will be able to read them. 

In the past, you had to build multiple websites to fit devices with varying screen sizes, which costs both time and money. This is the exact problem that mobile-responsive design is used to fix.

Readable text across devices

Remember the late 2000’s when the internet became available on your Blackberry or iPhone 1? Not only would it take a website forever to load (more on that to come), but if you actually wanted to read what was written on the page you would have to zoom in, and then scroll from left to right just to finish a single sentence. 

It felt like going back to first grade and reading along with your finger again!

Mobile-responsive design makes the text on your website adaptable to any screen without having to create a separate page. While you build your website, choose exactly how you want your material to appear on your customer’s screen. Customize everything, including:

  • The text size
  • Line spacing
  • Number of characters (numbers and letters) and words per line

Again, this resolves a lot of the frustrations that customers might feel while visiting a website. By customizing your text to make it readable, with proper spacing, on any device, readers will enjoy:

  • Readable text without the need to zoom in
  • The ability to read blocks of text without scrolling back and forth
  • Enough space to comfortably hit “tap targets”

Tap Targets

A tap target is any button, link, or space that a reader might need to ‘tap’ to carry out an action on your website. We encounter these every single time we open an app, visit a website, or log in to an account. 

For instance, you know that space on your phone where you tap to enter your username on the login page? That open space where your name goes is a tap target. And then, once you add your password, you hit that little button that says “submit,” right? That’s a tap target too. 

Building your website with mobile-responsive web design ensures that each one of these tap targets is both readable and properly sized so that readers can tap accurately.

If people can read what they are tapping, they will almost always tap the button they actually need. And, if the tap targets are spaced out properly, they’re less likely to accidentally tap something they didn’t intend to. Optimizing your tap targets for text size and spacing will result in an enjoyable experience for those visiting your mobile site.

Why is responsive design important?

Frustrated readers are less likely to become customers or followers by subscribing to your email list. Similarly, frustrated shoppers are far less likely to buy something from your ecommerce platform. So, why is responsive design important?

To avoid these exact scenarios! 

The purpose is to grow your website and your following, and mobile-responsive will achieve this.

Mobile-responsive design reduces bounce rates

When people can’t access a certain part of your website, they tend to leave. This is known as “bouncing.” When people bounce from your site, this means that they are not taking in all the content you’ve displayed, they’re not using the links you’ve built-in, and they’re definitely not purchasing whatever product or service you provide. 

This applies to everyone, especially if you:

  • Provide services: Increased bounce rates make readers significantly less likely to utilize your service. They won’t make it to your contact form, they’ll simply ‘x’ out of the page. And where are they going to go from there? Straight to your competitor’s site.
  • Operate an ecommerce site: When selling goods online, there are multiple steps involved to get customers from your homepage to the point where they enter their credit card information. If customers become frustrated with any of these steps, they are far less likely to purchase from you.
  • Utilize social media traction: You turn social media influence into money by click-through engagement from your social media page to your website. But the problem here is, social media pages are incredibly quick to load. This means your website must keep up with the same speeds. Otherwise, your following will just as quickly high-tail it out of your site.

Responsive design keeps you ahead of the competition

Believe it or not, over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies don’t have full mobile capabilities at the moment. These are huge companies that have built themselves up the traditional way, and none of them achieved their current level of success overnight. To compete with them (or just to compete with the company or blog that has a slightly bigger following), have all the aspects of your website that you can control, like mobile-responsiveness, up to speed.

For this, starting with Constant Contact’s free trial website builder is a great choice. The layouts and themes are pre-set to be optimized for your industry, making the creation process streamlined. Plus, all sites are mobile-responsive, which means this whole issue is a non-factor.

Mobile-responsive design costs less time and money

Whether you are running an existing business and trying to get ahead of the competition, or you’re a brand new blogger trying to get your feet wet, saving time and money with mobile responsive design is just smart business

How, exactly, does responsive design save you both? You only have to design one website with one name to put yourself on the map. Here’s the gist of it:

  • Time: If you know a web developer or have participated in the website creation process, you already know the time involved. Websites have deliberation and ideation phases, where tens (if not hundreds) of questions will be passed back and forth between developer and website owner. Multiple rounds of design, functionality, swap-this-for-that, and more turn days to weeks. And if you want to then make the site mobile-responsive, expect this timeline to grow. 
  • Money: By the way, that deliberation and ideation and back-and-forth process we just mentioned? That’s all typically paid for on an hourly basis. Even if you do it yourself, that extra time spent building your website is time that could be spent elsewhere and, as they say, time is money. By cutting down on the time it takes to build your site, you also cut down on the cost. By the same token, you will cut down on costs every time you need to update the content on your website. 

By creating a mobile-responsive website through a website builder from the get-go, both of these can be avoided.

Responsive design consolidates tracking, analytics, and reporting

All of the data regarding who visits your site, how long they spend on it, what they look at, and what they buy will all be stored in one convenient location for you. Even if you’re not a data whiz just yet, this will come with time.

Constant Contact’s analytics platform allows you to see where any part of your website is not optimized. This goes for both desktop view and mobile view. Any spot that’s not mobile-responsive and optimized can quickly be identified and fixed. 

Why is mobile-responsive web design different from mobile-friendly web design?

Everything mentioned above is mobile-responsive web design. It’s taking the user experience from the desktop version and plugging it directly into the mobile device. However, with mobile-friendly web design, it takes the information from the desktop version and plugs it into the mobile device.

Mobile-friendly pages are the sites you’ve scrolled through on your phone that are hard to read and click on buttons. Instead of adapting the information, it simply translates the information — inefficiently, at that.

Images on a mobile-friendly page might be hard to view. Whereas images on a mobile-responsive web design might be slightly more zoomed in or focused on the subject matter. Constant Contact’s smart technology automatically resizes the images to create a focal point for mobile. 

This helps across all pages, but especially the Home page (where user’s first impressions are made) and Product pages (where users expect to see high-quality images of what they’re going to buy).

In the end, it’s not just about seeing the same information, it’s about experiencing the same information. That’s the difference between friendly and responsive.

What’s next?

Now that you’ve heard all about how important mobile-responsive site-building is, what’s the next step? Well, now you’ll want to choose the best option to create your mobile-responsive website, and Constant Contact has a platform that puts the power in your hands to learn how to make a responsive website.

  • Start with the website builder and input a few details about your company or purpose of the website (ecommerce, blogging, gallery, etc.).
  • From there, choose between the generated layouts and formats. 
  • Start building out your pages and fill it with relevant content.
  • Toggle back and forth to see either desktop view or mobile view (this is where the magic happens).
  • Set up your domain name and publish your site after you purchase a website plan.

Constant Contact’s mobile-responsive website builder is free to preview, extremely easy-to-use, and lets you build professional-grade websites for any type of device. 

And now you’re ready to go mobile!