What is Responsive Website Design and Why You Should Care

For a nonprofit organization, your website represents your mission. It draws in visitors, influences constituents and builds up fundraising donations for your cause. Your website is a vital component of your marketing strategy—the engine in a well-oiled machine. But what if the engine only half-worked, some of the time, for some people?

If your nonprofit’s website is not responsive, then this is probably the case. With today’s technology, a responsive website is vital not only for your nonprofit’s marketing efforts, but to help grow your mission overall. What exactly is a responsive design, though, and why should you care about it in the first place? We have a few answers.

What is responsive design?

If a website is responsive, it means it adjusts to fit whatever screen size it is viewed on. Whether that screen is on a computer, tablet or phone, the website will reposition and realign to be visible in the clearest way possible. Graycell Technologies defines a responsive website design as, “… simply a technique for developing websites in a manner that all of the website content, images and structure remain the same on any device, which means the website can work seamlessly on mobile devices, tablets and desktop screens. A responsive web design is a design that can handle all type of users, either on mobile devices or any other devices.”

For example, take a look at the window you’re reading this article on right now. Take your mouse to the bottom right corner, and when a little black arrow pops up, drag the window to the left to make it smaller. You’ll notice none of the words cut off, but instead they reposition themselves on top of one another to fit into the smaller screen and still be visible. This is what happens when the website is viewed on a tablet or mobile device. This is responsiveness.

Why does it matter?

So, why does having a responsive website matter? Can’t you just use the same website you already have, and visitors can click through it the same way, just a wee bit smaller? Well, not exactly. There are a few big reasons to have an (actually) responsive web design.

1. Mobile phones are all the rage. Let’s be real: Everybody and their mom, grandma, cousin and cousin’s cat has a cell phone. Okay… maybe not the cat. But seriously, 95% of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind. Not only a cell phone, but according to the Pew Research Center, 77% actually own a smartphone, which is up 35% from just 2011. And if mobile phones are where the people are, then your organization’s website needs to be there too.

2. People like easy browsing. Sure, you could have a non-responsive website, and it can still be accessed online by people on their mobile phones. But then you run into a few problems: small, difficult-to-read font, hard to click buttons, forms that will not let you click on them, etc. The list goes on. Non-responsive sites are just not easy to browse on via mobile or tablet. And don’t you want your constituents’ browsing time to be simple? Answer: yes. From a marketing perspective, the easier it is to browse your website online, the more likely your organization will have higher engagement, more volunteers and more donations. When people have an easy time on your site, they feel more relaxed and inclined to get involved with your cause.

3. Mobile donations are increasing. Naturally, with more people owning smartphones and surfing the internet with them, mobile donations also increase. According to Nonprofits Source, in the past year alone, mobile giving donations have increased by 205%. Fifty-one percent of people who visit a nonprofit’s website do so on a mobile device, and 25% of donors complete their donations via mobile devices. Throughout the rest of 2018 and for years to come, mobile giving is only projected to grow.

4. Responsiveness increases conversions. In 2013, the Google Mobile Search Moments Study found 55% of conversions from mobile search happen within one hour, e.g., a phone call, visit or donation. With a responsive website, because visitors find it so much more simple to browse and find what they need, your conversion rate is likely to rise significantly.

5. Google likes responsive designs. Ever heard of search engine optimization (SEO)? Probably. Turns out, search engines like Google strongly prefer websites with a responsive design. Because responsive websites have one URL and the same HTML code, it makes it easier and more efficient for Google to crawl, index and organize content from your nonprofit’s site. This means responsive sites are better search engine optimized, making them higher in search engine rankings when visitors try to find your nonprofit.

6. Page loading speed improves. One of the reasons Google likes responsive designs better is because of improved page loading speeds. Google rewards fast-loading webpages, or those which load within one second or less. And with a responsive website design, the page loading speed significantly improves. Of course, slower loading times can frustrate and annoy your website visitors, even on mobile, which also increases your bounce rate.

7. Website bounce rate reduces. A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors which come to your website, then navigate away after only viewing one page. In general, a high bounce rate is bad, and is another reason Google prefers responsive websites. Responsive sites generally offer content to visitors in a package that is easy to view and manage, thus ultimately keeping users on your website longer, and achieving a lower bounce rate.

8. There is minimum maintenance required. Before responsive sites came about, there were really only two options for websites on mobile: (1) create a desktop site that would be small and inconvenient for mobile visitors or (2) create a separate, dedicated mobile site. While the second option may have seemed better, it was much more difficult to maintain, as businesses and organizations had to constantly keep two websites updated. Now with a responsive design, there is minimum maintenance required. Whatever adjustments you make on the desktop version of your site, they also appear on the mobile version, already adjusted and reformatted to fit easily onto your phone.

If your nonprofit organization does not have a responsive website yet, now is the time to jump on board the bandwagon. However, unlike most bandwagons, this one is not going away anytime soon. You should care about a responsive website design, because not only will it help improve your marketing efforts, but it will help grow your mission too.

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