What is Responsive Web Design, and why it’s essential to your business

Responsive Web Design-01


If you’re in the market for a website, chances are you’ve run across the term “Responsive Web Design”. Some are still debating the aesthetics and usefulness of responsive design, while others have embraced it fully as a great solution to issues in our field. Either way, it’s certainly the current trend in websites, and you should know what the buzz about. Below we explain a bit what responsive web design means, how it works, and why you should consider a responsive website for your business.

Some are still debating the aesthetics and usefulness of responsive design, while others have embraced it fully as a great solution to issues in our field.

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is about building a website that fits on any screen size and device. This type of website is designed to detect the size of your screen and scale content to fit. If your site is responsive, you should be able to load it on any device and have it look as if it was made to be viewed at that size. Ultimately, a well-designed responsive site will consider readability, informational flow, and touch interactivity when your content scales to fit.

How does Responsive Web Design work?

The traditional way to design a website is in pixels. Pixels are units that take up a defined amount of space on a screen, like millimeters or inches (but much smaller!). If your website displays an image at 1000 pixels wide, it will show up fine on a laptop or monitor. But try viewing that site on a mobile phone with a screen that’s only 400 pixels across. It has no way of displaying correctly.

This is what makes responsive web design so great. Instead of pixels, responsive websites use percentages and flexible grids. It’s all relative to the boundaries of the screen. So instead of being 1000 pixels wide, your image might be coded to take up 75% of the screen instead. Scale it down to a smartphone screen, and 75% is still a unit that makes sense.

Why doesn’t everyone use Responsive Web Design?

It sounds like a simple concept, but this is actually a fairly recent development in web design concepts. In 2010, developer Ethan Marcotte introduced Responsive Web Design as a solution to a big problem in the design industry. At the time, the boom in smartphone development precipitated a boom in people browsing the web on mobile devices. Web designers faced issues trying to make their clients’ websites display cleanly with so many variations in device size.

The solution at the time was to design two versions of a website, one for desktop and one for mobile. That’s why older sites you visit on your phone might ask if you want to view as mobile or go to the full website. They haven’t gone responsive. But Marcotte’s innovation in responsive web design made it possible to build only one site that responds to any device screen size. 

How Responsive Web Design affects your business

At Red Arrow Marketing, every site we design is responsive. With so many people using smart phones and tablets, it’s simply outdated to have a desktop-only website. Without responsive web design, you’re ultimately turning away customers and crippling your business. Here are the main benefits of responsive web design and how they affect your traffic.

1  |  It makes your website more accessible 

 In 2018, out of nearly a trillion visits logged, 58% of all website views came exclusively from mobile devices. In addition, it is estimated that about 51% of all internet users access the internet ONLY from a mobile device. And that number is only expected to increase in coming years. With so much traffic limited exclusively to mobile, it is crucial to have a mobile version of your site. It must be functional and represent your business in the best possible light. Responsive Web Design makes that possible.  

2  |  Improves search engine rankings

 The growing number of mobile-only internet users is changing how the big guys do business too. Google recently announced they are taking a “mobile-first” approach to how they rank websites in search results. Previously, they prioritized websites based on how well they preformed on desktop. Going forward, they are prioritizing sites that are optimized for mobile. Meaning if you don’t have a mobile version of your website now, your rankings could suffer, and you will be more difficult to find in search results. Responsive web design solves that problem as well. 

3  |  Drives local conversions

One benefit of mobile devices we tend to overlook is their location services. While some dislike the thought of having a mini GPS tracker in their pocket, others use the intuitive location service daily. Think about how easy it is to open Google maps around lunch time when you’re craving something specific: “Taco bar near me.” Boom, 10 options within the nearest 5 miles. This kind of search was unheard of in the not so distant past, but now it’s second nature.

So much so, that Google is reporting record numbers of “Near Me” search terms—they saw a 900% increase in “near me today/tonight” searches just in the past few years! Likely this type of search contributed to their mobile-first switch in thinking. If you’re the type of business with a brick-and-mortar, or even just a defined service area, there’s a whole market of people looking for you RIGHT NOW that you could be engaging with.

Responsive web design helps you capitalize on people running “near me” searches for your services. These are people with a heightened rate of conversion because they’re looking to buy now, buy local, and buy quick. If you have a mobile-friendly site, you are likely to show up sooner and be more accessible than your competitors.



Responsive web design has become the new standard for internet presences to succeed. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re turning away customers who struggle to access your content. You’re actively harming your ranking in Google search results, making it more difficult for even desktop users to find you. And you’re missing out on a huge market of people searching locally for your services and are ready to buy. So the question becomes less of why do you NEED responsive web design, and more why haven’t you gone responsive already?

To see some responsive sites in action, check out our portfolio of responsive websites we’ve built for clients below. 

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