Happy New Year!
I’m asked about responsive websites quite a bit so I decided to answer for everyone in a blog post. Before I answer, I should define the term responsive website. A responsive website is simply a site design that adjusts automatically to any kind of device, including phones, tablets, laptops, and even larger desktop screens.
To answer the question – yes, in most cases, your website needs to be responsive. While I know some people may question my recommendation and suggest that your site should always be responsive, I believe that it strongly depends on your target audience.
For most websites, more than half of your visitors will be accessing it via a phone or tablet. Laptop and desktop viewers are now a minority. However, this does not hold true for absolutely every demographic of visitor or niche.
If your website targets markets that are less likely to surf on their phone then it may not be necessary to move to a responsive design at this point. A simpler or legacy format might be essential for some embedded markets that cannot take advantage of modern browsers. Also, genres of websites like video gaming, for example, may be accessed more on desktops than on phones.
Having said that, everyone should be considering moving to a responsive website at some point in the future. If you don’t have a very specific niche as mentioned above, then you already need to be responsive. If you aren’t, you will suffer a penalty in search results with Google and mobile visitors will have a harder time using your site.
At OCS we use Twitter Bootstrap for our responsive web design. We’ve found it to be the easiest, most compatible responsive framework to use. If you choose to use WordPress instead of a pure-HTML or PHP/ASP.NET based design, we recommend ensuring that the theme uses Bootstrap for maximum compatibility.