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E-commerce Link : Highly Responsive

How to determine when to create a responsive website, a mobile website or an app for your marketing needs

February 2013 By James Go
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The number of mobile users and the variety of devices on the market are increasing every day, making it easier to reach consumers in different ways. With all of this connectivity, a company thinking about its Web presence needs to consider how consumers will see and interact with the website—whether they are viewing it on a desktop, tablet or phone. A concept that has been gaining a lot of traction in the last few years to address the expanding mobile landscape is Responsive Web Design (RWD).

When mobile browsers display a standard website, it is usually a poor experience because the entire site is scaled proportionately to the size of the mobile screen. Everything on the page shrinks, which makes it hard to read, see images clearly and click buttons. A site can be designed specifically for mobile users in the form of a mobile website or application, but both require an entirely different approach to design, development and site maintenance. Given these options, marketers need to decide which are the most effective ways to reach their audience.

In order to know if RWD will work in your particular situation, it is important to understand what a responsive site is and how it consolidates the different mobile experiences across multiple devices. RWD expert Ethan Marcotte explains in an article titled "Responsive Web Design" that a website is responsive if it uses fluid grids, flexible images and media queries. To put it simply, a responsive site is designed and developed so the layout, content and images will adjust to optimize the way it is viewed based on the size of the browser window. This means no matter what type of device is being used, the same website is being presented in a slightly different way, and the user's experience isn't hindered just because of screen size.

As mobile devices become more common and screen sizes continue to change, people's online habits are shifting, as well. People are no longer just accessing the Web while on the go as smartphones and tablets are becoming a primary way to connect to the Internet, even at home. Responsive sites are becoming more common because they allow users to view the same websites on their desktops at work, their phones on the commute home and a tablet from their couches in the living room. Some of the companies that have already developed responsive sites include Starbucks, Microsoft and Disney.


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