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With the rise of smartphones and tablets for viewing websites (45% in 2014), it is urgent to adapt your site to mobiles. Responsive websites are the first thing that comes to mind, but is it really the solution for you?

What is responsive?

In May 2010, Ethan Marcotte, a recognized web designer and developer, provided one of the first and most comprehensive definitions of responsive web design (RWD). It defines RWD as the pursuit of an elegant viewing experience no matter the screen size. We use flexible grids, fluid images and media queries for this. How does it look?

Thus, we keep the content of the page, only its formatting varies. Indeed, the content is resized to offer optimal reading and suitable for all media.

Why is this so important?

Over the years, mobile adaptation has gained in importance to become an essential criterion of accessibility. A user must be able to view your site with any device.
But, since April 2015, this criterion also plays a role for SEO: Google penalizes your site if it is not suitable for mobile. To obtain the “mobile-friendly” label and position yourself correctly in the search results on mobile, it will then be necessary to set up a solution for small screens.
Should we choose responsive web design? Before opting for this solution, it is essential to know the advantages and disadvantages.

We can create you a beautiful responsive website design

Benefits of responsive web design

Responsive web design is an adaptation of the formatting of your content. This solution is therefore easy to set up, since you will be able to rely on your existing website. The proximity between the mobile version and the desktop version has many advantages:

  • The homogeneous content allows a rapid handling of the site. Internet users who are more used to the desktop version will therefore easily find their bearings on the mobile version.
  • Updating the site is made easier: changes applied to the desktop version will be automatically applied to the mobile version. Maintenance costs are therefore low. Indeed, there is only one site to administer.
  • RWD facilitates natural referencing. Internet users converge on a single URL (unlike mobile sites which have a different URL). There is no duplication of content between the two versions of your site and the website is better organized, which makes it easier to index your pages.

Disadvantages of responsive web design

The particularity of responsive web design not only presents advantages, but also generates problems, mainly of a technical nature:

  • Since the textual and visual content is identical to the desktop site, the loading time may be prolonged. Indeed, the server downloads and rearranges the data to adapt them to the terminal.
    If your site has many large images, you should download them first before resizing them. The page display process takes longer. The media queries largely solve this problem.
  • The speed of loading of your pages depends on the internet connection of your visitors. On the move, a poor internet connection or an insufficient mobile network will considerably slow down the display time of your site.
  • A responsive website does not take into account the technical capacities of the mobile device: touch screen or not, geolocation, support for javascript … The content is therefore often impoverished in a logic of homogenization.
  • If you want to adapt a very complex site to mobiles, a major overhaul of the display may be necessary and will generate additional costs in the long term. It will then be preferable to opt for other solutions, such as a dedicated mobile site, or a mobile application, for example.

Alternatives to RWD

Responsive web design is just one solution among others to adapt a website to mobiles. It has advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of before deciding. In fact, alternatives exist: sites dedicated to mobiles and mobile applications.
Do you want to improve your SEO and attract new customers, including on mobile? Responsive web design or a site dedicated to mobiles are good solutions.
Do you want to know your Internet users better and retain them? Think about mobile apps, which make data collection easier.
To make your choice, first of all think about your needs and your goals!

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