By now I bet you’re familiar with the buzzword mobile-friendly. When smartphones started coming onto the scene 15 years ago, companies could set themselves apart as “cutting-edge” by offering a mobile-friendly version of their websites, usually at an “m-dot” location (e.g., m.website.com).
Because the first smartphones weren’t equipped with fully-featured web browsers, those first mobile websites were significantly stripped down, offering very limited content and simplified features. It was a bit like being stranded on a desert island, or locking your keys in the car.
The rise of mobile
With the advent of the iPhone in 2007, mobile web traffic took off at an alarming rate, eventually overtaking desktops in January 2014. “M-dot” websites sprouted up all over the place as companies clamoured to engage a growing consumer base on mobile devices. These websites started to provide a “View Full Website” escape hatch through which the adventurous (or the especially frustrated) could leave the desert of the mobile site and take their chances in the jungle where full content was available to those willing to ‘pinch and zoom’.
But this hardly could be a lasting solution. With the ubiquity of mobile devices on the web, mobile-friendliness has become an expectation, not a selling feature -- like hotels that bother to advertise “free wifi”.
Thankfully, the web industry has kept pace with mobile demand and is equipped with frameworks and tools which empower websites to respond to individual users, ending the segregation of mobile and desktop users.
Responsive design as digital hospitality
Responsive design allows your website to detect your user’s screen size, and to transform the website’s contents to fit the user’s screen. With CSS media queries and frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation, we are able to curate a user’s experience with creativity and ease.
No more pinching and zooming. No more escape hatches. No more “I’ll have to do this when I get home.” Responsive design takes your users seriously by giving them every bit of the access and control they enjoy on a desktop -- the access and control they have come to expect.
But this is not merely about meeting expectation -- this is hospitality. Responsive design allows your audience to engage with you now, to complete their orders now, to find their answers now, whether on the bus, at the beach, or in the boardroom.
And responsive design puts you in control of your users’ experience, allowing you to craft a positive interaction, and to help to ensure they return. After all, people don’t like websites; they like what they can do by using websites.
So, take advantage of the flexibility and opportunity afforded by the modern web. Be available to your audience wherever they are with a design that puts them first.