Building A Responsive, One-Stop Website

Building A Responsive, One-Stop Website

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Chris Monnat, chief technology officer at 720 Strategies, likens his job to that of a fire fighter – without the life-threatening task of putting out fires, of course.

Not only does he juggle the every day evolving needs of clients – from website creation to database production – but he’s also thinking strategically about how to put out – or prevent – the next fire.

“The day-to-day is mostly finding the best way to take technology and mold and shape it to meet our clients needs,” Monnat said. “It’s looking at technology and things like responsive design and finding ways that it can benefit our clients.”

Responsive design is one of the newest ways that Monnat and his team are working to create websites that provide clients with a strong and creative first impression for their supporters.

What is responsive design? Monnat breaks it down simply: One website that is viewable in every browser and on every type of device.
Before, web designers would have to produce multiple websites so that if users surfed from home on their PC or on the road from their smartphone, the site would always look nice.

But now responsive websites detect what type of device and browser the visitor is using and adapt.  Users are viewing the same website, but pieces of it may change so that it adapts for their device.

“It’s one stop, one source to serve all devices,” Monnat said.

Having a well designed website is important, Monnat explains. If someone puts a lot of time into designing the site that users on a computer sees, but disregards the mobile version, there could be real repercussions.

He points to a study that found that the web surfing experience has a real impact on how people see the brand.

“Fifty seven percent, over half of users say they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site,” Monnat explains.
And when trying to get visitors to our website to sign on to a campaign, that response becomes more important.

“We’re dealing with advocacy,” Monnat said. “You’re counting on people’s goodwill to spread the word. If you don’t make it as simple and accessible as possible, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

He added, “When it’s not accessible on their phone, they could be losing 50 percent of those going to take action, not spreading the world or spreading the word negatively.”

There are lots of advantages to designing websites using responsive design, Monnat explains.

No matter what topic a website is addressing, eventually the content is going to need to be changed or updated. A responsive website only has to be changed in one place and then all versions of the site are adjusted. When dealing with the traditional setup – multiple sites for different browsers and devices – the content has to be changed several times. Trying to coordinate multiple changes is where errors and inconsistencies start to get introduced.

Is a responsive website always the best choice? Monnat said for most situations it is. Any site that is dealing with content – the written word, photos or videos – or is going to be updated frequently benefits from a responsive website.

The only exception Monnat finds are websites that are intended more as an experience than an information hub, particularly those that rely heavily on Flash or other interactive elements.

Get to know Chris Monnat quickly:

  • When he joined 720? September 2010
  • Where is he from? Rochester, NY
  • What’s is favorite app? Microsoft’s new One Note app for Apple products. He uses it to take notes in meetings and keep track of all the work that is going on. “I’m finally back in my note taking Nirvana,” he said.
  • If Monnat could have an app to do anything? Clean his apartment.
  • One thing he isn’t willing to give up for technology? Printed copies of magazines.

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