With responsive website design, your website (and its pages) can adapt and deliver the best experience to users, whether they’re on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. For that to happen, though, your website needs a responsive design. In the field of Web design and development, we’re quickly getting to the point of being unable to keep up with the endless new resolutions and devices.
Responsive website design (RWD) enables site designers to create once and publish the same content everywhere, for all devices. It is a website development philosophy of rendering web pages in an efficient, optimized, and easy-to-read format across a variety of devices and web browsers on different platforms. For many websites, creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impossible, or at least impractical.
Should we just suffer the consequences of losing visitors from one device, for the benefit of gaining visitors from another? Or is there another option?
What Is Responsive Web Design?
A responsive web design automatically adjusts for different-sized screens and viewports.
With a responsive website, someone can browse your website from any device and it will still look and function perfectly. Responsive web design describes a web design approach that allows websites and pages to render (or display) on all devices and screen sizes by automatically adapting to the screen, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
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 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. One may also have to consider the settings on their devices; if they have a VPN for iOS on their iPad, for example, the website should not block the user’s access to the page. 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.
The Concept Of Responsive Web Design
It stems from the notion of responsive architectural design, whereby a room or space automatically adjusts to the number and flow of people within it.
Transplant this discipline onto Web design, and we have a similar yet whole new idea. Why should we create a custom Web design for each group of users; after all, architects don’t design a building for each group size and type that passes through it? Like responsive architecture, Web design should automatically adjust.
It shouldn’t require countless custom-made solutions for each new category of users. Obviously, we can’t use motion sensors and robotics to accomplish this the way a building would. Responsive Web design requires a more abstract way of thinking.
However, some ideas are already being practiced: fluid layouts, media queries, and scripts that can reformat Web pages and mark-up effortlessly (or automatically). But responsive Web design is not only about adjustable screen resolutions and automatically resizable images, but rather about a whole new way of thinking about design. Let’s talk about all of these features, plus additional ideas in the making.
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. How is one to design for these situations?
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. But that can be overwhelming, and who knows what the usage figures will be in five years? Besides, many users do not maximize their browsers, which itself leaves far too much room for variety among screen sizes.
We are indeed entering a new age of Web design and development. Far too many options are available now, and there will be far too many in the future to continue adjusting and creating custom solutions for each screen size, device, and advancement in technology.
We should rather start a new era today: creating websites that are future-ready right now. Understanding how to make a design responsive to the user doesn’t require too much learning, and it can definitely be a lot less stressful and more productive than learning how to design and code properly for every single device available.
Responsive Web design and the techniques discussed above are not the final answer to the ever-changing mobile world. Responsive Web design is a mere concept that when implemented correctly can improve the user experience, but not completely solve it for every user, device, and platform. We will need to constantly work with new devices, resolutions, and technologies to continually improve the user experience as technology evolves in the coming years.
Besides saving us from frustration, responsive Web design is also best for the user. Every custom solution makes for better user experience. With responsive Web design, we can create custom solutions for a wider range of users, on a wider range of devices. A website can be tailored as well for someone on an old laptop or device as it can for the vast majority of people on the trendiest gadgets around, and likewise as much for the few users who own the most advanced gadgets now and in the years to come. Responsive Web design creates a great customer experience for everyone. As Web designers, we all strive for that every day on every project anyway, right?
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