Lately I have been fielding a lot of questions about responsive web design from companies that are planning an industrial website redesign. In case you are wondering what the heck is responsive web design, let me give you Wikipedia’s definition first:
“Responsive web design (often abbreviated to RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites 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 desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”
I found a better description in an article from Forbes (You know something has gone mainstream in the business world when Forbes publishes a featured article on it). They define it simply as, “Responsive Web design is a new design approach that enables Web designers and developers to build and maintain a single website to serve to all kinds of devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.”
(Image source: WordPress Responz theme from Themify)
What’s driving this trend towards making business sites more mobile-responsive?
Here’s a quote from an article from CIO magazine, “It used to be that IT departments drove technology, but that has changed dramatically in recent years. The consumerization of IT revolution — sparked by the iPhone — has shifted the IT culture so that the users are the ones getting the latest, cutting edge technologies first, and they want to bring those devices to work. The concept of bring your own device (BYOD) is a growing trend for business IT.”
Another growing trend is blurring of the lines between IT and Marketing as more companies increase their use of marketing automation and analytics.
Mobile technologies have gained a strong foothold in the industrial workplace. Last year I wrote a post about how Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) professionals were using QR codes for productivity gains at job sites. (See Innovative Uses of QR Codes by the AEC Industry).
Manufacturers and other industrial companies are beginning to understand the importance making their websites more mobile-responsive and the competitive edge they can gain from it. I have been involved in several discussions that have gone well beyond information gathering. These companies are serious about developing responsive design websites from the ground up. They are also very interested in developing mobile apps specifically for an engineering audience.
Before you rush into making your site mobile-friendly, you should know that there is much more involved in responsive web design than just choosing a WordPress theme that supports mobile devices.
Giovanni Calbro of Siteworrx wrote a very good article on Responsive Design in the August 2012 issue of COO Magazine from CMI. The key takeaway for me was his recommendation, “Content prioritization is the first step in a user-centric approach to responsive design. Break your web content into core elements or building blocks. To prioritize, ask yourself, what do my customers need on a smartphone? Tablet? Desktop? How will they use each device to access information?”
And there you have it; responsive web design will directly affect your content marketing strategy, not just web redesign decisions.
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