Get Responsive . . . or Perish!

By Bill Blaney

If there is one constant in the world of digital marketing, it’s that change occurs every day, every minute, and every time you think you’ve caught up. It is possible, however, to stay ahead of the curve. To do so you have to know you’re already there.

For example, my agency created its first Content Management System-based website back in 2002 thanks to a large, multinational client who required that we build something she could customize as needed – without involving that pesky HTML. While most ad agencies and digital firms at that time were building clever Flash sites and hard-coded properties, we had the lucky fortune of glimpsing into the future and anticipating what clients would be looking for years later – in-house updating flexibility and SEO friendliness.

That project broke my budget. Given that Mambo, PHP-Nuke and other CMS systems were in their infancy, I had no choice but to have my programmers build a CMS from scratch. After ending the project with a pittance of profit on my end, I began the task of looking for a better option. Fortunately, CMS scripts available through my hosting company afforded me that option and, despite being a Creative Director, I took it upon myself to learn what I could. That was 2003.

For the last few years, most forward-thinking companies have been building their websites in a combination of responsive design (HTML5, CSS3) and PHP. If you’ve not heard of responsive design, don’t dismay. It’s a relatively new format, but the one undeniable fact is that it’s got amazing legs.  Building your site in RD affords you the following:

1. Cost-effectiveness
The days of spending twenty or thirty thousand (or more) on a company app that displays a truncated version of your company website are gone. In fact, short of unique promotional apps for Fortune 500s that can afford them, most companies today are going responsive. It’s much easier to reconfigure your code to a reasonably appealing mobile interface than build an entirely unique application that will duplicate your updating time.

2. Mobile device flexibility
It’s great that responsive design websites perform and display well on most current mobile devices. What’s more important is how they display on devices yet to be conceived. Thanks to the malleable quality of the design, your company’s site will likely perform well for several years without any serious modifications being needed.

3. An ever-rising series of themes
Why feel the need to come up with every design, animation, and layout choice? There are brilliant programmers out there spending day and night doing the hard work for you. Responsive themes are ever growing and smart programmers are finding unique ways to use the site architecture to make their designs fresh and timely. You’re going to cannibalize their design anyway. Why not start with good bones and build up from there.

4. Your entire site anywhere
The greatest downfall of mobile apps for business has been the costliness (for average companies) of displaying your entire website through smart device-friendly means. Responsive design eliminates only the unnecessary material (small buttons and art) when reconfiguring down from a large screen browser. As a result, your entire site survives the transition at no extra cost to you.

Five years from now everything may change again but, just as your old website from yesteryear looks like a relic today, your current, non-responsive site will seem that way before you know it. Build now and stay current.