Responsive design is simply describing website design that responds to the environment in which it is being viewed on. Gone are the days when people exclusively used desktop or laptop computers to view the internet. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets are in such high use, up to half of potential visitors to a website will do so on a mobile device. In some cases, a mobile device is the ONLY way the internet is used.
Mobile friendly websites are sites that are readable and easily navigated on mobile devices. They are also sites that load quickly (3 seconds or less) when launched. These attributes are particularly important to search engine rankings like Google. Google now includes how it ranks your website based on how mobile friendly your site is. Things like buttons far apart enough to click on, font large enough to read on small screens, and navigation tools are important and crucial to how your visitors experience your site. If it is too difficult due to poor design, they are likely to leave quickly.
There are 2 ways to make a website mobile friendly, both with plusses and minuses.
The first way is to simply make a desktop and mobile version of the site.
The desktop version is redirected to the mobile version when viewed on a mobile device. The advantage is there is much greater control over how the pages are laid out in each version. There is some responsiveness built into these versions but they must be carefully planned.
The disadvantage is of course the time and effort it takes to basically build 2 versions of a site. The second disadvantage is this version is already slowed down a bit from an immediate redirect when visited on a mobile device.
True Responsive Design
The other way to make a website mobile friendly is to use responsive design features in the framework of just one version of the website. The advantage is the reduced time and work it takes to create the site, plus the automatic responsiveness of the site to what ever device it is being viewed on.
The disadvantage is that there is less control in how web page items adjust to their environment. For those who are very particular about placement of webpage items, this may be an issue.
Affordable Web Design
As a website designer, I strictly develop websites that are truly responsive. I can walk you through the different strategies in designing your new website, or redesigning your existing one.
There are some things we should consider when starting out. What is the purpose and the goal of the website; e-commerce, business front, educational, informational or ministry?
How important is getting your website to the top of search engine organic keyword searches? Search engine optimization work takes research and meticulous planning and time to accomplish which can add to the web design budget. Is this the primary goal for you, or is your site found primarily through word of mouth and direct referrals to your domain?
What is your target audience and who are you wanting your website to appeal to? Even if you don't plan on spending much time and resources on marketing, small marketing concepts can be built into the design of your website that makes it attractive to potential customers or clients.