Everyone likes to be entertained, informed and even inspired, especially when they have limited time—and everyone’s time is limited. Businesses looking to be fiercely competitive with web design creativity are magnifying the latest trends in responsive websites to supercharge viewer engagement and retention, especially with mobile devices on the rise.

True, web design trends change every year, as new tools emerge for delivering a flexible user experience that appeals to everyone, from laptop loyalists to tablet and smartphone enthusiasts.

The beauty of responsive websites is they employ coding that actually changes the layout and content displayed, depending on the device viewing the website. Text is always clear, easy to read and images are always enjoyable, even on a smartphone.

A website, in effect, becomes responsive to the device viewing it.

Sleek, brilliantly mobile and seemingly intuitive, responsive websites are the ultimate in user engagement for web development today, creating a real opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves from their competition—and win the battle to engage mobile viewers.

Responsive websites started gaining traction during 2012, when more businesses realized that mobile engagement was a mandate. As mobile device usage surged, the need for mobile-friendly websites fast became essential, driving web designers to create sites that looked brilliant on any device—were tough enough to pack an SEO punch in the process.

In fact, by the summer of 2012, Google issued a recommendation in support of responsive design for smartphone-optimized websites, noting that making a website that is friendly to smartphone users is a critical component of website management. And, with at least 67 percent of search market share, Google's recommendations regarding website design recommendation should be taken very seriously.

Today, a responsive website is simply a best practice in website design and management. Optimized for greater SEO thanks to a content-rich strategy built for a mobile world, responsive sites allow viewers to enjoy a website in a simplistic way, never realizing the complexity of code that went into enabling their ability to view the site beautifully whether on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

Responsive designs can do amazing things, from sporting parallax scrolls (images with depth and entertaining graphics) or just the calming impact of stoic, fixed headers (a hot trend for 2014 for content-rich websites), the most important element of any website is its ability to be viewed in a simplistic way—the absolute deliverable of responsive design.

If that isn’t enough to convince you responsive web design is the right path for your web management this year, perhaps these words from Forbes.com will change your mind: "If you’ve ignored previous warnings and your business isn’t taking advantage of responsive design right now or planning to in the very near future, you are in danger of going out of business in 2014."

Of course, if you have no competitors in your market and a website is not a mandate for you to stay engaged with current and attract new customers, you are in the clear. You don’t have to worry about transitioning your conventional website to a shiny, polished, glistening responsive website. You can stay exactly as you are in the eyes of all viewing your website at this very moment … assuming anyone is viewing it at all.

Marie Alonso is an online marketing and media strategist at Miles Technologies, a leading IT company. The Miles Technologies team contributes business-driven content to The VAR Guy regularly.