Responsive Web Design – Why it could be as important as SEO?

Until recently, if you wanted a public website to be easily viewed on a mobile device, software developers would need to spend additional time writing code to specifically meet the varying standards on devices such as the Apple family of products (iPhone, iPad, etc.), the Android platform, the Windows Mobile platform or others. In essence, to make a “mobile version” of your website, repetitive coding activities would need to be completed to ensure correct sizing, navigation, content, etc. was available across these various mobile platforms.

CIO.com estimates that more than 1 Billion mobile devices will be online by 2013, which poses the question of how well does your company’s public facing website render on the leading Android, Apple and Windows Mobile platforms. A poorly rendered website (on a mobile device) could equate to lost business and lost revenues.

Clients, today, understand the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when planning the creation of a customer facing website, but they should also be giving attention to the concept of Responsive Web Design. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a coding practice whereby a software developer/designer can design a website to dynamically adapt to the screen sizes of devices by automatically resizing and reformatting the various elements of the site. In layman’s terms, your website content is the “liquid,” and the device you are using to view the content is the “container” – the liquid automatically takes the shape of the container when being viewed. For an example of Responsive Web Design in operation, visit www.cqlcorp.com (click the link, then resize your browser window, watch everything rearrange).  Responsive Web Design utilizes one base of code (along with other elements such as CSS3, HTML5, etc.) to eliminate the need for developers and designers to code to specific devices.

So, your question might be why isn’t every website written with RWD, in mind. Well, similar to design decisions needing to be made regarding SEO, developing a site to RWD standards might increase the amount of work a developer/designer needs to do during the coding process (i.e., it might cost more on the front end to develop), however it can also lead to a much better experience for the end-user, and therefore the cost justifies the strategic benefit on the back-end.

As a customer, you need to ask your web development team about their knowledge and experience in utilizing Responsive Web Design. With the onslaught of mobile devices in coming years, you do not want to be stuck offering up a website that cannot be properly viewed by a user.

Mobile Monday Grand Rapids January Recap

Last summer, I joined the Mobile Monday of Grand Rapids (MoMoGR) organizing committee because more of our clients want to learn about Mobile development and how it can help their business.  “MoMo” stands for Mobile Monday, and the Grand Rapids location is just one of many chapters that exist, globally. The MoMo organization brings together software developers and designers who practice their skills across many different development platforms. CQL is very engaged in developing custom software solutions across various mobile platforms (e.g., Apple, Android, Windows Mobile, etc.). As devices continue to become smaller and provide greater computing power, our clients find that critical (and non-critical) software applications need to be delivered through these mobile devices.

This week, MoMoGR held their quarterly event at Grand Valley’s Loosemore Auditorium.  This event was focused on Gamification, which according to our keynote speaker, Venu Vasudevan, means the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences.

Venu is the Senior Director at Motorola Mobility and definitely had a lot of insight on where this mobile movement will take us.  He started his presentation covering the past and informing us on why TV, which has had very few changes in the last 10 years, has only been a one-sided media experience.

Example: Visual of a couch potato sitting hours with only the occasional bathroom break, or beer break.   Definitely a one sided exchange because the only entity that is engaging is the TV.

But what if you could engage your TV and were encouraged with Games?   It would revolutionize the way we currently watch TV.  Venu gave his opinion on what works and what doesn’t, explaining that gaming only works when you take it a step further than badges and leader boards.  When gaming truly works, a ‘rewards’ structure must consist of Intrinsic Motivation.

His Examples are:

Stack Overflow

USA Network

Seeking Alpha

Before the keynote, there were three short 4-5 minute talks from local people that have started to use games in either an application or a development practice.   The most unique was a Grand Valley State University grad student presenting what he calls “Pocket PT”; a suite of accessorized theuraputic iOS games being designed to help patients recover from traumatic brain injuries. The goal of this application was to use gaming as an incentive for repetitive exercises.  It is fully customizable and the clinics receive valuable feedback.   Check out the video below.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

It’s amazing how such a simple concept can change the way we’re engaging patients with traumatic injuries.

The event was great and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one (check out the MeetUp or our blog for updates).  What I realized is that gaming, whether on a Mobile application or not, is going to have a huge impact on how CQL builds applications.   In the future I see users more actively interacting with live televisions shows, advertisers, and much much more. Really the possibilities are endless.