The web moves fast and the devices we use change almost as rapidly. It's like dog years – by the time a site or device has been around for a year, it feels like seven and everyone's asking "What next"? If you're a Marketing Director, Brand Manager or Ecommerce Head, this can seem frustrating at best and impossible to manage at worst. With most web projects taking months from inception to launch, how can anyone possibly keep up with digital, never mind get ahead of the curve?
You might think (if you were at all cynical), that digital agencies stand to benefit hugely from this, constantly redoing sites for clients, year in, year out. However, any agency worth its salt will take a longer-term view of things, creating web solutions that will expand, grow and adapt over the coming years. None of us have a digital crystal ball and to a certain extent we're all at the mercy of what Apple, Google, Facebook etc do next, but building in whatever flexibility we can now will pay off in the not too distant future.
You'll no doubt by now be familiar with responsive web design – sites that automatically rescale and reformat themselves to fit any size browser/device. Visit www.indochino.com on different devices or resize the width of your browser if you want to see an example. With an ever growing range and diversity of devices out there, it's a fantastic way of making sure your site gives users a great experience no matter what they're using to visit it today, tomorrow or next year. There's no such thing as "future proof", but a responsive site should cater for most devices in the foreseeable future.
But doesn't it cost more to design and build a responsive site? Yes it does, but it's also incredibly good value versus creating a desktop site and a separate mobile site, and having to maintain both. Responsive sites work from one set of data, meaning you essentially only have one site to maintain, even though it works perfectly across desktop, tablet and mobile. And with the lines between those devices becoming ever more blurred (some of Samsung's largest phones are virtually the size of small tablets), a responsive site doesn't care what your device is, only how big the screen is and how it can make the most of the space.
What if your mobile traffic is currently low (say less than 10%)? Well listen up, next year it will grow and the year after that it will grow again and the year after that...
So that's why we'd now recommend responsive as standard. The web is no longer about "computers", there are no barriers any more. We don't put aside time to actively go and "surf the internet" as though it were a hobby or a pastime. There is no online or offline, there's constant connectivity and if your site doesn't work across every device out there, you're missing out and you're losing customers.