Sep 21, 2021 Design + Creative

4 Tips for Using Responsive Web Design Effectively  

Responsive web design is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s do-or-die for your business. 

The concept is not new for most. However, as the internet evolves, so does the way consumers interact with business websites.  

Here we’ll provide some guidelines for incorporating responsive web design into websites. 

Plus, we’ll offer the latest insight into responsive design trends. 

What Is Responsive Web Design? 

Just like digital transformation, responsive web design is all about meeting the consumer’s changing needs and expectations. 

From content formatting to mobile-friendly features like CTA button sizing, a responsive website is compatible with all devices to ensure users are delighted from their first click to their last. 

Nobody needs to tell business owners that consumers spend more and more time on their mobile devices. But companies can really benefit from knowing exactly how consumers behave when they look at their phones or tablets.    

So what are they doing? They’re opening up their wallets, and they’re spending. Each day, according to recent research by Statista and Global Stats, consumers use mobile devices to purchase more and more: 

  • In the last three years alone, the percentage of retail ecommerce sales that occurred on a mobile device has increased nearly 10% and as of Q2 2020 reached 31% 
  • As of March 2021, the percentage of mobile purchases (54%) has surpassed desktop purchases (42%) 

Whether by enabling potential customers to easily find you, keeping users on your site longer, or building trust and brand recognition, responsive web design is a powerful driver of conversions and profitability. 

Responsive Design Tips  

To maintain a competitive advantage, it’s wildly important to stay ahead of others in your industry or niche. This means being on the cutting edge of the latest design trends and the shifting world of responsive web design.  

Below are a few tips for optimizing responsive web design:  

Tip #1: If You Have to Start Small, Start Small 

If you can’t manage to make your entire website responsive in one fell swoop, don’t. Take one step at a time.  

Analyze your site activity to determine which pages are experiencing which type of activity from which devices. Then begin optimizing the pages with the most activity and the highest potential for conversion.  

For example, if you know you have an ad driving traffic to your sales page, start there. Ensure that the checkout design is responsive and seamless for different browsers and devices. 

Tip #2: Start Stretching – Flexibility Is Everything 

Just as a builder of physical structures doesn’t make one building for a particular type of person and another building for another kind, web design must be agile and flexible enough to accommodate any browser on any device. 

Flexibility will be critically important in the following areas: 

  • CTA buttons. When someone visits your site, you want them to take some action. So, your call-to-action buttons must be flexible. A CTA button that works on your desktop site must adjust when the same page is opened on an iPhone for placement and size. 
  • Images and icons. The wrong resolution can create havoc on your page speed. Different photos should be used for different devices. Responsive web design involves elements that adjust dynamically and automatically.  
  • Typography. Your visitors must be able to read your website to buy from you. But the font that looks fabulous on your desktop site can be terrifyingly distorted on a mobile device. Colors, heading size, and font thickness are all important considerations.  

Tip #3: Map the Journey 

Site navigation can cause significant frustration for users. On the other hand, if visitors can navigate easily, they will be more likely to purchase. Visible links to important next steps in a nurtured sales funnel are critical. And those next steps must be easy to understand. For example, the hamburger icon can cause frustration if a user doesn’t know they must click on it to reveal the links hidden behind it.  

Responsive design considers the most important next steps and ensures these steps are understood and links are accessible.  

 So let’s say the customer is in the consideration stage of their purchasing journey. Be sure to make testimonials, reviews, and comparison materials available. For customers who are at the decision stage and are ready to purchase, responsive design ensures that links to purchase are readily available.  

Tip #4: Less Is More 

Minimalist design is responsive design. Embracing the adage “less is more,” taking a minimalist approach eliminates visual clutter, ensuring your site loads faster and, at the same time, making it easier for your users to digest important content and respond to your CTAs.  

Responsive Design Trends 

Since mobile users’ expectations (not to mention the expectations of Google) are growing higher every day, designers everywhere are scrambling to create quick, high-quality user experiences. And as web design continues to advance, it’s essential to ensure your site keeps up.  

Below are some responsive design tactics that are becoming trends. 

Enhancing Readability 

Readability is another way of saying clarity. When your design and copy are readable, your brand can breathe. It has room to convey important messaging and emotion.  

For Design: Think about vector graphics. Traditional raster graphics use a plain image via pixels on a bitmap. But scalable vector graphics use points on a vector map to build a particular design. The benefit of making the switch is that when graphics are scalable, they can be resized without compromising visual quality. So the icon that appears beautifully on a user’s desktop will also be crystal clear on their phone. 

For Copy: Today’s users are more likely to scan your site than to read every word. And when your design is readable, today’s users are more likely to absorb your intended message and respond to your calls to action. 

To enhance readability, be sure to incorporate: 

  • White space 
  • Bolditalic, underlined, highlighted text 
  • Properly placed images 
  • Varied sentence lengths and shorter paragraphs 
  • A combination of paragraphs and bulleted lists 

Incorporating Smart Scroll 

To make the user experience as seamless and effortless as possible, many sites provide everything a user could want efficiently on one page. It’s called Smart Scroll. 

When used creatively like in the Belroy ad, Smart Scroll tends to encourage longer dwell times and drives engagement. It also minimizes time spent by the user navigating your site.  

You can’t include everything about your company, of course, but you can include: 

  • About Us & Contact info 
  • Services Overview 
  • Unique Value Proposition that sets you apart from other options that may be under consideration 

Going Against the Grain with Color 

Users are so accustomed to dark text on a light background. It’s become the norm and the norm can get old fast. Flipping the script can be a welcome change for them. 

Dark mode is a new responsive design strategy that many websites are using. Not only does it help users who struggle with migraines and preserve smartphone batteries, but it looks pretty cool too. 

Using a Website Builder or CMS 

It is, of course, entirely possible to DIY a responsive website. But brands looking to become responsive quickly often turn to website builders or content management systems (CMS).   

Utilizing a widely adaptable CMS, like you would with Media Temple’s Managed WordPress, enables you to build speedy sites with responsive web design.  

When a CMS has strong support (either from the brand or community) you’ll find numerous themes and plugins that assist with responsive web design, even if you don’t know how to code.   

  • You can set up a mix of prebuilt components that fit your needs, often with some ability to customize based on your particular brand or use case. 

There’s one major drawback compared to hard-coding a custom-tailored site. You’re at the whim of the creators of the CMS, theme, and plugins: If support dwindles – or there’s a security breach – you’ll have an unexpected and often costly transition on your hands.  

The Good News 

The good news is that responsive web design is possible. And achieving it doesn’t have to be a headache. Teams with any level of technical expertise have the option to supercharge their sites and feel in control while they do it.  

If you’re partnering with Media Temple, every one of our hosting solutions includes access to our team of experts via phone, chat, or support ticket – around the clock. We leverage our collective experience hosting over a million sites to help you. Whatever your skill level, we strive to make critical moments in your site’s life as anxiety-free as possible. 

About the Author Allison Bondi is a copy writer who focuses on the tech world and human interest pieces. She has worked in the SaaS and Telecom world for 10 years. When not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and identifying plants. More by this Author