While responsive design is not necessarily a new concept, it certainly is one that is gaining in momentum and importance as the use of tablets and smart phones become increasingly omnipresent. In fact, Mary Meeker at Morgan Stanley has predicted that mobile Internet usage will overtake that of desktop usage by 2014.
Originally coined from the idea behind responsive architecture, Ethan Marcotte was one of the first to officially label 'responsive design' for the web. The term refers to the idea that websites can be designed and developed so that the layout adjusts to best suit the user's viewing device, whether that refers to screen size and resolution, orientation, browser and/or platform.
At the heart of responsive design is:
As well as the increased use of mobile browsing, the types of browsers we use to view online content are consistently evolving, with two out of the three most popular games consoles now featuring their own browsers. Top that off with the multitude of ways we actually navigate digital content, from touch to desktop, handheld consoles to TV remotes, and it becomes clear that no one can ignore the benefits of adopting responsive design.
Developers employ a mix of intuitive CSS, flexible grids, fluid layouts, and automatically resizeable images, to create responsive web designs that accommodate for the needs of the device they are viewed on.
Overall, responsive web design aims to deliver an optimum viewing experience for all users, no matter what device they use to access your website. So whether its a large desktop or TV screen down to a mobile or tablet, every user gets the same benefits from your website. Moreover, responsive designs automatically adjust to meet the preferences and requirements of the viewer.
There are a number of advantages to adopting responsive web design for your organisation, including:
- Reduces the need to create different versions of your site, offering 1 solution that works efficiently across all devices.
- Caters to the size of the actual device, thus reducing the need for users to adjust content, creating a more enjoyable overall user experience.
- Puts the focus on the content - meaning that organisations are more focused on what they are trying to deliver to the end user from the offset, which results in better structured and more efficient content overall.
- Cost efficient solution, as you no longer need to produce multiple templates.
Of course responsive web design is not relevant or necessary for all businesses. A simple scan of your site's Analytics will let you evaluate how people are currently viewing your website and provide you with an answer on whether it would benefit your company. If the vast majority of your traffic comes from regular 17 inch monitor desktop computers then responsive design would most likely be an unwise investment. However, for the vast majority of modern organisations, an increasing volume of site traffic can be seen to be coming from mobile and other touch devices. It is in these cases that responsive web design should certainly be taken into consideration.
Moreover, responsive design produces a 1-size-fits-all solution, resulting in content being delivered in a more cohesive fashion and creating a consistent user experience across platforms. In today's fast paced digital world responsive web design is one of the most efficient means of safe-guarding your website for the foreseeable future.