Monday 25 November, 2013

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive design is a major buzzword in the world of design these days. It’s a new approach to designing websites that aims to offer the best viewing experience possible, no matter what kind of device you’re using.

Today more and more people are surfing the internet using mobile devices. New devices are popping up every day. So many are constantly coming out that it’s nearly impossible for web designers to keep up. To make an alternate version of your website for every single device on the market would be insane.

That’s where responsive design comes in. The idea is to create a site just once that will work on any device.

The Elements of Responsive Design

Responsive design is very complex and we can’t go into everything here, but here are the basics of responsive design.

First off, responsive design is as clean and simple as possible. It has clear navigation and as much of the content above the fold as possible so there’s little panning, resizing, scrolling or pinching (a good practice for any type of web design).

A website that’s responsively designed detects the device used to access it and adapts. It’s amazing what websites can do these days. There are a number of ways it can adapt to the device used. One is to use flexible images that change size automatically. The designer chooses minimum and maximum sizes and creates images that don’t pixelate when enlarged. Something called media queries adapt the CSS style to the device being used so that navigation and content is the same. Websites are created in such a way that they can be viewed in either portrait or landscape view. This way, there’s one site for every screen.

Why Responsive Design?

Responsive design is complex but there are many good reasons to use it. The most important is that it saves resources. You don’t have to build multiple sites. There is just one for all devices.

Designing a website responsively improves the user experience. This is extremely important especially for ecommerce sites. When shopping online, internet users want a smooth experience. A site that looks funny or takes a long time to load will drive people away and they’ll find a site with a better user experience to patronize.

Finally, a simple reason to go responsive is that it’s possible today. Architects can’t create buildings that adapt to any person who enters, but we designers can. The technology is there and it’s not terribly hard for an astute designer to use.

The key to responsive design isn’t the specific tools you use to adapt to user devices, but the entire way you approach web design. In order to create sites that are responsive, they have to be simple and easy to navigate. Simplicity makes it easier to build a site that’s flexible.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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