Small Business Website Essentials: Responsive Design

There's a lot you need to know before you hire a web developer. In this series, I'll review the most important parts of your new website. Let's talk about something called Responsive Design and why it's essential to your small business's website.


It’s also referred to as mobile friendly or adaptive designResponsive Design allows your website to look great on any device whether your customers are using an iPhone or Android device, a tablet, or a desktop.

It’s important because consumer’s behaviors have changed. Your customers no longer just sit in front of their desktop computers to look up businesses; they're using mobile phones and tablets too. These devices have different screen sizes so that causes websites that are not Responsive to look bad and not work. We'll look at some examples below.

Have you ever visited a website on your mobile phone only to find that the text and buttons were too small? That's because the site was not designed Responsively. 

ComScore’s report tells us that there are now more mobile users than desktop users. And that’s not a surprise. Think about your kids. I bet they use mobile phones pretty much all the time. Or just look around the subway station at how many people are using their phones. Cleary consumer’s habits have changed.

So if your customers are on their mobile phone trying to look up information about your business, your website better look good on their device. Responsive design ensures that happens. Let’s look at some examples.

This is a website as it appears on a desktop. It looks great. But...

USA RV & Marine's website as viewed on a desktop computer.

USA RV & Marine's website as viewed on a desktop computer.

...the iPhone version doesn’t.

USA RV & Marine's website as viewed on an iPhone.

USA RV & Marine's website as viewed on an iPhone.

When most customers see this, they will leave your site immediately for one or all of the following reasons:

  • Your customers can't click the links because they're too small
  • Your customers can't read the text
  • Your customers can't find the phone number
  • Your customers can't navigate because the buttons are too close together
  • There's no clear message of what the business is about
  • All the pieces of information are competing against each other because there's no hierarchy.

Why should your customers have to be frustrated with your website when they can just go to your competitors website that's responsive?

Here’s an example a Responsive site:

ResumesToday's website as viewed on an Desktop  .

ResumesToday's website as viewed on an Desktop.

ResumesToday's website as viewed on an iPhone  .

ResumesToday's website as viewed on an iPhone.

You can see that the iPhone version looks great.

  • The buttons are big
  • The text is easy to read
  • There's a short clear message that explains what the business is about
  • The menu automatically folds up into three stacked lines to indicate that it can be clicked on to reveal the rest of the menu
  • The information is laid out in a way that it creates hierarchy

So, when you're ready to hire a website developer, make sure you tell him or her to make your site Responsive. It will improve the customer's experience and increase your sales.

85% of consumers look up businesses online before they go shop or eat. Yet, half of all Small Businesses in the US don't have a website. If you're a small business owner, you need to get a website. Your customers are looking for your business and they're not finding you. Guess what? They're going to your competitor.

Steven Matt

I am the Director of Digital Marketing at one of the world’s largest financial institutions. I teach Digital Marketing courses to small businesses on behalf of the NYC government and General Assembly in NYC. I am a graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a Bachelors degree in Communications Design. I have a Masters degree in Management and Technology from New York University. In my spare time, I organize volunteer glass cleanups in NYC parks and I make jewelry out of the broken glass that I and the volunteers collect. I sell the designs at an artisan market in Brooklyn.