Responsive Web Design (aka RWD) has been spreading amazingly fast. With the proliferation of iPads, iPhones, Galaxys, Androids and a mind-numbing number of screen resolutions to design for, it’s no surprise, right? You might be shocked to find out that responsive design is not as common as you think. Recent studies have found that responsive designs were found in less than 20% of the top 10,000 sites.

While the overall numbers are still low, adoption numbers are moving in the right direction. First, let’s examine some of the common reasons companies don’t use responsive design and why these assumptions are usually wrong. Next we will consider why it’s a designer or agency’s responsibility to present and encourage responsive web design when appropriate.

Here are some typical barriers to adopting responsive design

  • We don’t have the budget
  • Our users don’t use mobile devices
  • It’s too time-consuming or technical
  • My designer/developer/agency told me we don’t need one

These are real answers given by real customers. Fortunately, it’s easy to see that in most cases the opposite is usually true. Here are some of the reasons why.

I don’t have the budget for a responsive design

Multiple platforms exist that give you powerful functionality and beautiful responsive web design using either existing templates or custom designs with pricing that won’t break your budget. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Shopify & Magento are just a few options. We use WordPress most often because of it’s massive library of impressive plug-ins and ease of use, but depending on your needs any number of other platforms may work for you.

My users don’t use mobile devices

As mobile usage explodes, so do the number of devices most sites are displayed on. Each device has a number of screen sizes. These numbers will only continue to grow, so a great responsive design will be increasingly important. According to a recent Google study, 79% of people who don’t like what they find will go back and search for another site. Your site may be one of the few that doesn’t get mobile, tablet or other varied resolution display requests, but it’s not likely. Understand your user’s needs before starting your web project to know if responsive design is right for you.

It’s too time-consuming or technical

Compared to traditional web development, developing on a platform that supports responsive web designs is generally faster and easier. It could be compared to the difference between machining parts from scratch in a metal shop to buying them from Amazon with same day delivery. The metal shop parts didn’t quite fit right, while Amazon’s worked flawlessly. You get the idea.

My designer/developer/agency told me we don’t need one

You may trust them implicitly. Don’t. Ask to see the analytics from your current site. If they aren’t available, it’s usually fairly easy to infer. How, when and on what types of devices do users typically interact with your web properties? Understand this and you will know what’s right for your organization.

Why is it a designer or agency’s responsibility to present and encourage responsive web design?

So, when is it appropriate to encourage responsive web design? It turns out, pretty close to all the time. Unless you are developing a kiosk where all displays share the exact same specs. Maybe you are designing an intranet for a bank that bought 5,000 of the exact same computer and display configurations. Those customers don’t need a responsive design now, but they might in the future.

Here are some more compelling reasons.

  • Mobile usage is blasting through the stratosphere
  • Responsive sites display beautifully on all devices
  • Search engines like responsive sites
  • It’s cost effective
  • You only need to manage one site
  • It gives you an edge over non-responsive competitors
  • Mobile friendly sites turn users into customers
  • Non-responsive sites can damage your company’s reputation

Responsive Web Design is now and will remain a solid choice for most web sites. Research the options, be creative, elevate the message and brand by leveraging the many powerful responsive web design platforms available to you.