A responsive website is a website that will adapt to the screen that an end-user is viewing with.  This means that, though the content of a site will stay the same, its layout will change depending on whether it is being used on a desktop computer, an iPad, an iPhone or an Android device.  This has some obvious - and some not so obvious - benefits.

The benefits

Flexibility across user devices

A responsive website adapts for an optimal user experience depending on whether that user is viewing on a desktop computer, a graphics tablet, android device or iPhone.  

Better user interface

The need for resizing or scrolling is eliminated on a handheld device.  Even the navigation bar adjusts to maximum usability depending on the size and orientation of the device’s screen.

Saves money

The coding for the desktop website is the same as that used for the hand-held device, so the development costs are reduced.  You really are, in fact, getting more for less!

Google will reward you

Google now recognises responsiveness as a ranking factor, so it is important to embrace it as an important part of a website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.

Easier to maintain

As the same code is used regardless of the output device, tweaks and modifications carried out by the web developer are translated across all of these devices without the need for variants of device-specific coding.  Easier maintenance also means lower costs.

Conclusions

Should I move to a responsive site?

With the increasing popularity of hand-held and tablet devices, the days of traditional websites is becoming a thing of the past.  This trend looks like it is set to continue, making the responsive approach a compelling and arguably necessary move for many organisations.

When should I switch?

Another question might be, if this is the direction that technology is pushing successful and forward thinking organisations to go, why would you delay and risk alienating visitors to your site who are increasingly seeing responsive approaches on your competitors’ websites?