Keeping in mind the huge growth of smartphone & tablet users globally, websites these days are being viewed on a wide variety of platforms - each having it's own operating system, browser, screen resolution, etc. Now, if we were to design our sites in a way so it displays properly on each of these devices, it would be an enormously time consuming & rather an impractical task.
Most traditional websites, when accessed through smaller screens like that of smart phones, some parts of the page are cut off, & the viewers have to scroll the pages to be able to view the content. This is surely annoying, especially to the viewers who are pressed for time. The solution to this problem is to have a website that can be viewed on big monitors and small screens without any hassles or inconvenience.
This is where having a responsive design comes to your(and the viewers') rescue. A responsive web design is the one in which your website adapts itself according to the device on which it is being viewed. It, in noway, compromises with the site functionality, instead it delivers an enhanced user experience. This implies that your site looks uniform across all devices.What Challenges/Problems Does Responsive Web Design Solve?
Having only one URL for your website: Earlier there was a practice of having a separate URL to which mobile users would be redirected to when they open a site. So basically this would mean designing a separate website specifically for mobile & other small screen devices. This 'mobile site' was in other words a mobile version of the main website. With a responsive website in place, your site is hosed on a single URL & this single site is coded for optimum view across all screen sizes & devices.
This eliminates the need for you to host & maintain two separate sites.
Extended online reach: As we know, today's mobile & tablet generation represents an impatient lot. Mobile online users do not have the patience or time for endless scrolling or zooming in and out to view a website. It takes no time for them to abandon such a site and find another website that offers them a better navigation & viewing experience.
Retained trafic: Even if your site is well marketed over all and drives a lot of traffic, it is of no use if it's being abandoned by mobile users. A large amount of traffic today reports mobile/tablets as a medium. Your website will have high traffic levels but also high bounce rates if it doesn't work for mobile users.
Recommended by Google: Google quotes responsive web design as the recommended design approach. It clearly ranks responsive design above 'Dynamic serving' & 'Separate pages' websites, i.e, websites that generate a different HTML version or those that serve different code on different URLs, based on the users’ device.
Click to read Google's recommendation here.
Freedom from duplicate content issues : When you have two or more versions of a single website, it would naturally mean that you would want to convey the same information(and thus content) on all of these. However this can give rise to duplicate content issues and cause your websites to drop in rankings with the leading search engines. On the other hand, if you do develop different content for each of the versions, it would end up confusing the visitors.
Cut on unproductive costs : With one design that fits all devices well, you will have only one site to concentrate on. You will need to market & manage one website that will work well for all users. This means your operating costs are reduced by many folds.