Sometimes technology and the Internet can seem like a constantly morphing wild beast you just can’t seem to catch. You’re busy making sure apartments are occupied, accounts balanced, staff well-trained. Keeping up with the latest technology tweaks or Google’s latest algorithm changes isn’t at the top of your priority list. Nor should it be.
However, when it comes to your websites, Responsive is a word you should know. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is still fairly new, only beginning to gain mainstream traction in late 2012. RWD is the solution to the ever-expanding arsenal of devices that are able to browse the Internet.
There are no longer standard screen sizes. It’s the exact opposite. A device seems to be created every day to fill the screen size gap between two existing devices!
At its most basic, Responsive Web Design is what it sounds like: your website literally responds to the width of the browser. This means that if you resize your Firefox or Chrome browser window on your desktop, a RWD site will adapt, photos will resize, text and other blocks may change location to respond to the height and width change.
In the very recent past, most sites had a desktop site and a mobile site, literally two different websites that had to be separately built and maintained. And then any screen sizes in between (smart phones, iPad and other tablets) were just left hanging, sometimes being served the desktop, sometimes the mobile, depending on the developer and the site design.
There are some activities that consumers still mostly perform only on desktops. However, searching for apartments is not one of them.
And because the latest Google algorithms change is now giving preference to RWD, anyone who wants to rank on search engines in getting on the Responsive band wagon.
If there is any behavior on the internet that occurs any place, any time on any device… it’s apartment hunting. Imagine your prospect at Starbucks, exhausted from a few apartment tours, glazed from hours spent on Craigslist, buying coffee to recharge and use the WiFi. The prospect Googles “apartments in …..” What if your site takes too long to load and they close out, or even worse, all the text and photos are garbled and the information is a mess?
Why Does RWD Matter to Me?
Responsive Web Design matters for apartment owners and managers because when you optimize your website for every screen size you ensure that every prospect who visits your website gets the best possible first impression of your community and is more likely to convert from just a website visitor into lead.
If your website looks broken on tablets and smart phones, you are losing leads. When you combine RWD with a proven ROI marketing approach, you can increase your leads dramatically. Imagine if your website doesn’t look right on the iPad Mini. That means you’re missing out on leads from everyone who uses that device. Why take the risk of missing leads?
A few things to know about RWD:
- A site that was built traditionally can’t be simply converted into Responsive. It has to be built new from the ground up. RWD is like the architecture of a site. There’s no button to push to change the foundation.
- Although RWD expands capacity, there are still limitations about the placement of design elements on your page. Your site is not just a static picture with sections that you can click on. It is important to have a web design company who understands RWD best practices and keeps all devices in mind when designing.
- RWD can take more time to develop and test up front, but over time, has the best ROI for multifamily companies who are concerned with leads.
Check out this example of Responsive Web Design for an apartment community landing page: Cypressapartmentslewisvilletx.com. And for another example, of course my company’s website is responsive: Resident360.com.
If you have other questions about Responsive Web Design, let me know in the comments, and I’ll be happy to try to answer them for you.
NOTE: I know this may seem ironic to talk about the importance on a blog that’s not yet using a responsive design… however, as you see above, my company’s site is responsive and I just havn’t had time to update this blog’s design.