Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.
Why is Responsive Design important for websites?
Time & Money
The notion that making a responsive website is expensive is just that, a notion. The fact is, while the cost to make a responsive website is somewhat more than making a conventional website, but the expenses to duplicate a website for mobile and other devices gets completely eliminated, as a result – that cuts total development costs, significantly. In addition to that, a responsive design cuts the total ownership cost, by means of taking away the effort to maintain different versions of a website i.e. a “desktop-version”, a “mobile-version”. Thus, in the long term, investing in responsive website design is the smartest decision.
Pervasion of the Mobile Devices
Internet traffic originating from mobile devices is rising exponentially each day. As more and more people get used to browsing the web through their smartphones and tablets, it is foolhardy for any website publisher to ignore responsive web design. The “One Site Fits All Devices” approach soon will be the norm.
While, content is king and discoverability of content are foremost success metrics, it is the user experience that enables visitors to consume content on any website through the device of their choice and preference, anytime. Thus, responsive web design is about providing the optimal user experience irrespective of whether they use a desktop computer, a smartphone, a tablet or a smart-TV.
Responsive Websites are agnostic to devices and their operating systems. A responsive web design ensures that users get the best and consistent experience of a website on any device of the user’s choice and preference – be that the iPhone, the iPad, the smartphones running the Android OS, or the Windows OS and several others. As a result website owners and content publishers can need not exercise the option to build versions of their website for every popular device platform which they expect their audience might be using.
The way ahead
Thus, rather than compartmentalizing website content into disparate, device-specific experiences, it is smarter to adopt the responsive web design approach. That’s not to say there isn’t a business case for separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the user-goals for your mobile content-offering are limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach.
But that kind of design-thinking does not have to be our default. Now more than ever, digital content is meant to be viewed on a spectrum of different experiences. Responsive web design offers the way forward.
Adjusting Screen Resolution
With more devices come varying screen resolutions, definitions and orientations. New devices with new screen sizes are being developed every day, and each of these devices may be able to handle variations in size, functionality and even color. Some are in landscape, others in portrait, still others even completely square. As we know from the rising popularity of the iPhone, iPad and advanced smartphones, many new devices are able to switch from portrait to landscape at the user’s whim.
In addition to designing for both landscape and portrait (and enabling those orientations to possibly switch in an instant upon page load), we must consider the hundreds of different screen sizes. Yes, it is possible to group them into major categories, design for each of them, and make each design as flexible as necessary.