From cell phones to tablets to laptops to full-size workstations – your web site must look good and provide value on all devices or you’re wasting money and squandering opportunities. Responsive Design is a way to dynamically alter page layouts to provide an optimal user experience across all devices. Is it time to ditch your current, unresponsive web site?
Unresponsive = Unproductive, No Sale
Unless your web designer anticipated a variety of screen sizes and orientations, when your web site is viewed, for example, on a small tablet held in portrait orientation, your pages are probably impossible to view. The pages are clipped and require scrolling in all directions or get zoomed out to show the entire, illegible page with tiny text and graphics. Either way the user has to really work to make use of your site. Research as well as Alto’s own experience with search engine marketing statistics shows that when a useless page gets displayed the user rarely stays long: the page is abandoned and the opportunity is lost.
In short: your existing web site needs to be recycled and repackaged.
When Less is More
In contrast, responsive design allows the designer to react intelligently to the size and orientation of the screen. For example, on a full sized workstation in landscape mode, a three column layout with large images looks terrific. The same layout in portrait mode works better with two columns and if the screen is very small, a single column is the only option that works. The designer anticipates the screen size and orientation and alters the layout to provide an optimal experience.
Same goes for the size of photographs and other images. Images that look great on a large monitor end up way out of proportion on smaller devices. It might even make sense to eliminate some images all together if there isn’t room.
Importantly, you must consider site navigation. A fancy drop-down menu with a dozen choices spread across a wide, landscaped page works great with a high-precision mouse pointer. Not so much when the user is trying to position a finger with hyper accuracy just to get a menu to appear. A responsive design changes components like menus and other navigation aids so they remain useful on touch screens and limited screen space.
Ditch Your Expensive Web Site!
If you created your website more than a couple of years ago you’re probably paying some steep monthly fees for hosting and maintenance. It also probably takes several phone calls and emails to a web developer to make even the simplest change. Your web site ends up updated only occasionally and is all but useless on small devices. This is a great time to consider a change because wonderful options are now available at prices anyone can afford.
Any edition of SharePoint can accommodate responsive designs. Alto is particularly excited about SharePoint Online, the cloud version of SharePoint that is part of many Office 365 licenses. SharePoint Online offers a way for companies with simple web presence needs to get a responsive design that can be maintained by non-technical users.
The way it works: When you purchase even a single Office 365 license that includes SharePoint (which can be as low as $5/month at the time of this writing), in addition to the terrific collaboration features of a SharePoint Intranet for your staff, you also get a free, public-facing web site.
All of this is hosted in the cloud in Microsoft data centers. Microsoft provides the network operations staff and handles security, firewalls, backups and everything else. You concentrate on keeping your web site fresh, useful and a valuable asset for your company.
Know Your Limitations
The free public-facing web site that comes with SharePoint Online is intended for “web presence” types of sites which are typical for most small and medium businesses. If your needs grow beyond the limits, other editions of SharePoint are available to accommodate your needs without losing your investment. You can start small and grow with SharePoint.
Get Started, Get Responsive
Responsive design happens in two stages. The first stage is a one-time investment in an experienced SharePoint web designer who works with you to determine how your web site content can be best displayed on a variety of devices. This results in one or more page layouts where page elements are dynamically arranged and sized.
From there, your non-technical staff leverages the easy-to-use content creation and management features of SharePoint to keep content fresh and useful to your site visitors.
SharePoint is a powerful and capable platform that can handle a wide variety of business challenges, including responsive design. Once the dynamic adjustments are configured, nontechnical users can participate in content creation and updates to keep your web site fresh and useful. It’s time to make the change.
If you’re curious about SharePoint or Office 365 and want to learn more, Alto offers consulting and other education opportunities designed to get you up to speed, fast on the concepts and address all your questions and concerns.
Contact Alto if you’d like to learn more about how SharePoint’s many features streamline business communications and increase productivity.