What is responsive web design?

responsive web designAlthough the term “responsive design” was only coined in 2010, five years later, it is standard practice for new websites. Still not sure exactly what it is? Read on to find out…

The start of responsive design

Responsive design came about in response to the changing way that we access the web. Previously, most web browsing was done on laptops or desktops, and websites were designed accordingly. Most websites were designed to be a fixed width, based on the average size of screens. As screens got bigger, so did websites. But then things started to change…

The first iPhone was released in 2007, starting a new age of smartphones. In response to this change, a number of new web design approaches emerged, including mobile specific sites and the creation of mobile apps.

A few years later, tablet sales rocketed, changing the web browsing landscape again. By 2014 mobile usage had reached a tipping point where more people browsed the web on mobile devices than desktops.

These changes caused web designers to rethink their mobile design strategies and come up with a more flexible way to design websites for the growing number of different sized devices used to access the web – the start of responsive design.

What is responsive design?

Responsive web design does exactly as it says – responds to the device being used to view it. Instead of having different designs for different devices, the website is designed in a way that means the elements dynamically reorganise to fit the environment.

The idea behind responsive design is that visitors will have a consistent experience, whether they view your website on a mobile, tablet, desktop or any other internet enabled device.

It works based on “breakpoints” – the site will display in a particular way until it reaches a breakpoint, and then it will reorganise. You can often see responsive breakpoints in action by resizing your browser windows, but if you’d like to see a range of responsive designs together then take a look at the mediaqueri.es website.

It’s not all about looks

Responsive web design isn’t just about the way the site looks on different devices, it’s also about what content is promoted and how it works. Usability needs to be taken into account – ensuring a good user experience no matter what the device – so it’s often functionality that changes as well as the design.

Big is just as important as small

Although responsive web design often takes a mobile-first approach – where the mobile version is designed before the other versions of the site – growing desktop sizes (and the launch of supersized tablets like the iPad Pro) mean it’s just as important to consider how a site looks and works on big screens, as well as small ones.

The impact on search engine optimisation

In April this year, Google started prioritising mobile friendly sites in their search results, making it more important than ever to have a website that is professionally designed to have top functionality across mobile devices, in order to maintain your site’s visibility and increase web traffic.

Making the move to responsive web design

Do you still have a non-responsive website, and want expert help in getting up to speed? Our experienced team focus on creating engaging and beautiful sites that deliver outstanding user experience. Chat to one of our team today on 0141 585 6390, to find out how your business site could make the move.

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