If you are not involved in website design or managing a website on a daily basis, you may not be aware of the changes taking place in website design due to the increased use of mobile devices. However, if you are thinking about creating a new ministry website or updating your current one, you may want to read the rest of this post.
Did you know that in January 2014:
Americans used smartphone and tablet apps more than PCs to access the Internet last month — the first time that has ever happened.
Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States in January.
(from Mobile apps overtake PC Web usage in U.S.)
According to the Pew Internet Project’s Research Mobile Technology Fact Sheet
As of January 2014:
90% of American adults have a cell phone
58% of American adults have a smartphone
32% of American adults own an e-reader
42% of American adults own a tablet computer
Many website designers and companies are paying attention to this trend and creating websites that are “responsive” to the various devices. This is called responsive web design. According to Wikipedia responsive web design (RWD) is an effort on the part of designers to “provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).”
If you are not sure whether your website is responsive, view it using different devices. If it looks exactly the same on each device and you have to scroll from side to side, as well as up down and resize the view to follow content, it is probably not responsive. If, on the other hand, the design re-configures itself so that you can follow content seamlessly by simply scrolling up or down, it is responsive.
If you do not have a mobile device at hand, you can view your website on your computer and then reduce the size of the browser window and see what happens. If you do that with the websites of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament or St. Joseph Catholic Church, you will see how the content responds to the smaller screen size.That is what should happen with your site if it is responsive.
If you do not think that this mobile revolution impacts you, check the Google Analytics for your site (if you have it) and see what percentage of your visitors use mobile devices. I checked two of the sites that I work with and I found that 57% of views on a parish site were from mobile devices and 55% of the views on a religious community website were from mobile devices. What are your findings?
Many of the volunteer website designers and even some of the professional designers we have used in the past are not trained or equipped to provide a responsive design. But that is what we need going forward given the growth in the use of mobile devices. Our websites are a ministry and we want them to be easily accessible regardless of the device being used.
If you are in the market for a new website, do your homework and find a designer who can provide a responsive website.
What is your experience with responsive web design? What is your experience of websites that you access from a smartphone or tablet?
FYI: In my research for this post, I found some writers using terms such as reactive, receptive, or adaptive design instead of responsive, but responsive seems to be the most common.