There’s no denying that the world is becoming wired, and as more and more devices go online, the need for responsive web design will only climb. For years, personal and business sites only had to be built a single way, for a single device, and users generally tolerated pages that were perhaps a bit too big or small for their screen. That’s no longer the case, as the differences between a PC monitor, tablet and a smartphone are so stark that a new form of design had to be produced. Known as responsive web design, it’s an approach that modern site creators take as it provides a superior mix of adaptability, aesthetics, optimization, and compatibility with various SEO tools.

Why should a business consider responsive web design when establishing its online presence?

Businesses can no longer just compete with a traditional, basic site that is only accessible through a desktop or laptop. Potential clients are constantly on the web using their smartphones and tablets, and a site must adapt to these devices seamlessly to keep people interested.

With responsive web design a site’s content flows like water, filling up any size screen without the need for scrolling or panning. In the past, many businesses would just upload their basic site to mobile platforms, making for a frustrating online experience for potential customers. Now, this form of site creation uses highly flexible grids, images, and CSS styling to rearrange the content based on the size of the display. So, for widescreen monitors at home, a company can stretch their site’s content and images out wide. For a small smartphone, the same content can be stacked and shrunk so that it is easier to parse through. And as the site is expanded or shrunk on a display, the content fills the new space dynamically.

In the past, some businesses would build multiple versions of their site, and when a user would access it, the site would return a version most compatible with the device the user was on. So a business may have one version of its site for desktops, one for phones, and so on. While this does offer additional flexibility, it requires duplicate uploads, which reduces site speed and increases the risk of returning the wrong version of the site.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is that responsive web design is made for SEO. Any business owner focusing on their online presence knows that SEO is a major priority, and any slight advantage a company can procure may mean the difference. With a single, flexible version of the company’s site, link building is much more effective, as the back-end is the same for all versions of the site. With multiple iterations of the same site, link building becomes diluted and can sabotage a company’s attempt to improve their rankings in Google and other search engines. This may seem like a simple problem – why would various search engines account for this? The answer is because Google, as the unquestioned leader in search engines, is pushing to make responsive design the industry standard, so those sites that make use of it will likely sustain better SEO results over the long haul.

The time for less flexible, multiple iteration sites has passed. The present, and future, of mobile development lies in fluid site development optimized for a variety of platforms. Any company that takes advantage of it will position themselves well for the foreseeable future.