Unless you’ve been living under a rock then chances are you’ve heard about Responsive Websites, but what are they exactly? Do you need one? And how do you get one?

Well before I answer that it might be worth noting the following quote from Digital Trends

“According to a recent report by analyst Mary Meeker, mobile devices running IOS and Android now account for 45 percent of browsing, compared to just 35 percent for Windows machines.”

People browsing the internet on mobile devices has grown exponentially as you would expect, it has also grown very fast and will continue to do so, but viewing a website on a mobile device such as an iPhone is somewhat awkward due to the fact that websites were traditionally designed for laptop and desktop screens, they’re big and they’re difficult to read and navigate through on the small screens of mobile devices. In a nutshell,  responsive websites are designed to adapt to those smaller screens, the content of the website is scaled and rearranged into different layouts best suited to whatever screen size the website is being viewed on.  The majority of websites aren’t responsive but more and more are cropping up and the popularity of them is becoming self-evident. The most popular free theme on WordPress.org is “Responsive” and it does exactly what it’s title suggests.

So back to our question, do you need one? Well, taking into account the growth of mobile browsing I would have to say Yes, you probably do. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to change an existing website to be responsive. Your site is probably going to have to be redone from scratch even if you don’t want the overall design changed. If you’re looking at  getting a new website anyway then you’re in a somewhat better position, and you should talk to your developer about your new website being responsive. However custom-built responsive websites aren’t cheap. Making a responsive website is a lot of work and it’s going to cost you more than a static site would.

But I can’t afford a new fancy schmancy responsive website!

If you have a WordPress site then you have more options so you’re not going to be hopelessly stuck in a non-responsive place! I’ve already mentioned a free theme on WordPress.org. There are other responsive free themes on there, and you will find many premium themes from the big theme shops such as WooThemes and Elegant Themes that are now responsive. There’s also quite a few on Theme Forest. All these themes are very reasonably priced. You can then install them yourself, or contact a WordPress installation specialist and hire them to do it for you. This is obviously much cheaper than getting a custom site designed from scratch. I have recently begun offering WordPress Installation Services so you can contact me here for a quote.

I LOVE my website, I don’t even want a new one!

Well if that’s you then once again if you’re running WordPress you’re lucky! There are some excellent plugins available to make your site mobile friendly and people accessing your site from their mobile device will have the option to view either the mobile version of your site, or the desktop version. I have used WPTouch for my clients and thoroughly recommend it.

There is a free version which you can download here to try it out, and if you decide you need more functionality then you can upgrade. Here are the available packages.

But your website isn’t even Responsive!

I know I know, I’m not practicing what I preach, or at least don’t appear to be, I’m a busy designer and haven’t got around to it blah blah!  I am actually in the process of redesigning my website, and will be launching the responsive version very soon. In the meantime leave a comment and let me know what you think about responsive websites, and take a look at these examples of the best responsive sites by NetMagazine.

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