Learning Hub | Google Analytics

What Does It Take to Make a Website Responsive?

August 12, 2015 | Jon Teodoro

Before arriving at the assumption that you have to be an Internet wizard to make a website responsive, look over our list of what is needed to achieve the mobile-friendliness that is more attainable than you might think.

make a website responsive

The Responsive Web Design Toolkit:

Mobile First Web Design

There’s upgrading a desktop-only website template and slapping on responsive coding. And then there’s mobile first web design. We recommend mobile first web design because piecing a site together from scratch makes it a stronger sum of its parts than an antiquated desktop-only site integrated with responsive elements on top of its original template.

Content Management System (CMS)

Pictures, writing, videos, and infographics are among its most common formats, but content will continue to break conventional definitions as the digital age unfolds. It follows that the ability to organize all of its elements through one interface and server in a comprehensive, time-efficient manner is important. That’s where a CMS comes in handy, especially when juggling aspects of responsive web design. Whether a picture is too small, a font style is out of place, or a piece of metadata needs revision, a CMS saves you possible hours that would otherwise be spent scrounging your hard drive, code, and/or documents manually.

Google Analytics

Without any sense of your analytics, you’re digitally blind. Without a detailed profile on the traffic that you have coming to your site, you lose important insight on your audience. For example,  whether your viewers are browsing your site via desktop or mobile device is an extremely important detail to consider when contemplating how central a responsive web site could be for lead generation, search engine rankings, and general reach. And that particular detail is one of many regarding useful statistics that Google offers.

Visual Design

Colors, styles, fonts, icons, and graphic elements play a role in a website’s brand and message, especially for a business. It’s important to ensure that these elements are not diluted or lost when applying responsive web design given the dynamic formatting inherent to mobile device displays.

Content User Experience (UX)

We’ve run into them all. Pop-ups that don’t stop coming. Obnoxious audio loops on websites that come out of nowhere. Slideshow articles that load an entirely new page for each slide rather than run from one slideshow on the original page. This is where designers and developers can ruin their website visitors’ UX. And for websites that aren’t responsible designed, their viewers can run into frustrating problems two-fold. Given the consolidated nature of responsive web design, a desktop-only website can only emulate the format so far; visitors may have to swipe and zoom more than they would like to on a mobile-unfriendly page that still thinks it is being viewed from a stationary monitor that can fit several mobile displays. Simply put, it can get real ugly.

Content Strategy

Content when viewed on a mobile device needs to be concise and engaging. The expectation that viewers will sit in front of a large monitor in a comfortable setting and read a whole article is unrealistic when smartphones often have more processing power, digital connectivity, and the added bonus of portability. Content strategy often relies on analytics and strives to create a thorough profile of a website’s viewers and tailors content toward their needs. For businesses, this attracts potential customers. In general, this gives your website the visibility you’ve been working toward.

Website Development

The previous three elements of web design (UX, Content Strategy, Visual Design) are made manifest by website development. Analogous to the bricks of a house under construction, lines of code can come in many languages and are a website’s means of seamlessly connecting with the Internet while also acting as the foundation of a site’s digital composition. Some of the most common mediums are HTML, CSS, and Javascript. This is where you might want an Internet wizard.

But for the more casual user, “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) CMS programs (such as free website builders like Wix and Strikingly) provide an easier, more central means to seek out issues and edit their site. For a more detailed guide on responsive web design, check out our Business Owner’s Guide to Responsive Web Design.