As web traffic spreads across a growing variety of devices, responsive web design is becoming the obvious choice to reduce the workload in the long run and protect against slow load times.

Web traffic on phones and tablets is reaching an all-time high, causing the m-Commerce market to grow at an astounding rate. For companies looking to capitalize on these rapidly growing markets, optimizing sites across all platforms is crucial to maximizing potential engagement and revenue.

But an ever-increasing range of portable connected devices like smartphones, tablets, and wearables have made it difficult for many companies to keep up. Building an entirely new site or app for each mobile platform can be financially prohibitive, while optimizing a pre-existing website for the mobile internet can be difficult and, in some cases, outright impossible.

The solution to the multi-platform problem is to the focus the efforts of your development team on one, all-purpose website.

While traditional companies might have managed to scrape by creating individual web products for individual platforms, the explosion of the mobile market calls for a one-size-fits-all approach: responsive web design.

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design (RWD) isn’t some high-tech tool or coding language. In fact, as Forrester Research is quick to point out, RWD is actually more of a philosophical approach to the field than anything else.

It also isn’t very new — the concept was introduced by back in 2010, but because of the time and resources needed for work like code rewriting, businesses have been relatively slow to actually implement it.

This is somewhat surprising when you consider all the benefits it stands to offer. Essentially, RWD allows for all of your content and syntax to exist within a single, reactive domain that will automatically adjust itself to provide the best possible user experience for that specific viewpoint or device.

One code and one URL will simplify your SEO efforts, reduce the risk of maintenance needs, and provide incredible ease when it comes to sizing up or down. It’s no wonder RWD is the mobile web development approach recommended by none other than Google.

The potential implications of this idea are significant and wide-ranging, especially when you consider how many risks your maintenance team will no longer have to worry about. Take as an example: customers will frequently track down an item they’d like to buy on the company’s website, only to find it has mysteriously disappeared when they switch over to the mobile app to make the purchase.

eBay is guilty of similar crimes — their mobile app often omits valuable information that would otherwise help guide the purchasing process.

RWD removes any possibility for these kinds of problems, offering customers a seamlessly integrated shopping experience while reducing overhead for the business itself. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? So why are so many companies so hesitant when it comes to actually using it?

Clearing the Air

Mike Wolf, the director of technology at Cynergy, believes that part of the reluctance may stem from widespread confusion surrounding the proper implementation of RWD practices.

“The benefit you get is one web,” Wolf explains. “But if you’re unprepared for responsive site development, that benefit of responsive design can actually become a detriment.”

RWD’s potential positive impact on cross-platform site functionality is clear. It could be especially helpful for small-to-medium businesses that are looking to expand their digital reach, but don’t have the resources to develop sites for each individual platform.

And although it requires a little blood, sweat, and tears up front, properly implemented RWD will definitely prove to be worth the effort in the long run.