Google representatives say, "Responsive design is Google's recommended design pattern". When Google favors something, everyone in the digital sphere takes notice, and many of us are quick to adhere. Responsive web design enables a website's layout to change based on the screen size/resolution of the device it is displayed on. A website should respond to screens of all types and sizes, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and televisions. Many laptops will range between 12-inch screens and 17-inch screens, but desktops can have as large as 40-inch screens with mobile phones being exponentially smaller. And to make things even more challenging, screens all have different resolutions. For this reason, responsive design is no longer a matter of debate anymore — it is a requirement.
There are other reasons, beside Google's favoritism, to build websites using responsive design. Perhaps the most obvious reason to use responsive design is visual appeal. According to Sitepoint data, in November 2016, mobile web browsing accounted for nearly 51 percent of all web browsing. This is the first time mobile has surpassed desktop as the lead device for web browsing. Have you ever visited a website on a mobile browser and immediately left the site because the aesthetics were atrocious? A bad mobile experience is one of the top reasons people leave a website without engaging. A website which is not designed for mobile works like repellent.
Responsive web design also saves time and money. Rather than writing separate lines of HTML and CSS for each device displaying a particular website, responsive design requires the maintenance of a single set of code. This single set of code then will have parameters to move, expand, contract, show, and hide the different elements of the site, depending on the page. For instance, a menu bar may appear along the header of a website when it appears on a laptop, but the mobile version of that website may use a hamburger-style menu which drops down to show the menu options when clicked.
SEO also favors responsive design, so optimization has become a lot more than keywords and phrases. If Google decides a website looks just as immaculate on a phone or tablet as it does on a 24-inch desktop screen, this will factor into achieving higher search engine rank for the website. Consider this logic — a readable website, easily navigable, and suited for all devices can achieve a higher SEO than competing sites with potentially better keyword phrases. A site with a higher SEO may appear on the first page of a Google search, and a site which appears on the first page of a Google search is likely to get more clicks and conversions than a site appearing on the second or third page. In the end, it actually could pay to be responsive.
In web design, everything is about user experience, and responsive design puts the user first. In order to reap the benefits listed above, here are some guidelines to keep in mind when creating or updating a responsive site: