Responsive Web Design (RWD) has gained popularity of late as a technique for implementing the HTML & CSS code of your website in such a way as to provide the same functionality to desktop, tablet and mobile browsers from the same URL. Several large web properties have gone responsive, including the Boston Globe, Starbucks, BBC News, Disney and Time Magazine.
While RWD is primarily a technical technique mainly for designers and developers, the impact on your web strategy cannot be underestimated. With the explosion of so many new devices, RWD stands alone as the best technique to address the complicated technical landscape that a website or application must build towards.
As a CEO with a technical background and experience working on large RWD implementations (my company appendTo implemented Time.com), I wanted to share some of my perspective on why RWD is not just another strategy to address mobile.
How can RWD address the technical risks of building and maintaining a web property in today’s environment? Here are five reasons that RWD is best suited to the job:
1. RWD forces developers to write better code.
Every pixel, bit and byte counts on your website. Using RWD forces your developers to focus on the details and in my experience, the product is better in the end. Cleaner, more concise code has many benefits including page speed, usability and a positive SEO impact.
2. RWD improves the ROI of your developer’s time.
If you’re investing in a Desktop site, Mobile site and various Mobile Apps, you can reach all of those technical audiences with a single RWD website. By focusing your developer’s time onto a single codebase that reaches multiple platforms, you’ll see a greater return on the value of your website or web application.
3. RWD future-proofs you against new devices.
New devices show up on the market all of the time with new screen sizes and new functionality. If the RWD technique is implemented correctly, users with new devices will be able to get value from your site even when you didn’t plan for them to visit.
4. Google favors sites that are implemented with RWD.
Google recommends implementing your website using RWD techniques because it solves several issues related to duplicate content when the search engine crawls your site. This reduces the potential for mistakes when listing your site in the search engines and can help improve your rankings.
5. RWD increases site usability, which makes your users happier.
Happier users return to your site more often. You’ll never hear the user of a website or web application implemented with RWD complain about your lack of a mobile site. Even if your analytics show very little traffic from mobile or tablet computers, you’ll likely see an uptick from these devices after you launch a RWD enabled site.
As you can see, implementing your website or web application with RWD isn’t just about making sure you check the box for mobile visitors, its an entire strategy for taking your project to the next level by improving usability, producing a better product and improving your SEO.
Are you planning on leveraging RWD in your web strategy in 2013?
This post originally appeared on the author's blog.
Mike Hostetler is a Husband, Father, Entrepreneur & Polyglot Technologist. Founder & CEO of @appendTo. Passionate about Virtual Working, HTML5, JS, Entrepreneurship and Freedom. Blogs at http://mike-hostetler.com.
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