What is responsive web design?

By 27th February 2016Web Design
Cornish Physiotherapist Website Design

This is the first part in a series of posts that we will be running giving you the low-down on responsive web design.

We’ll start with the basics in this first post by answering the question: What is responsive web design?

Introduction

The term ‘responsive web design‘ is pretty much the buzzphrase of the moment when it comes to talking about websites. In short, it means that your website will look great across desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones (and pretty much any other devices we may have missed). Essentially, the word responsive just means that your website will respond to whatever device it is presented on, showing you the best representation of itself that it can.

To see the concept in action, head over to the BBC website and you’ll see how easy it is to navigate on your device. If you are on a desktop or laptop, make your browser window smaller to fake the effect, you’ll see how the content automatically shuffles itself around.

Why?

The responsive concept came from the fact that technology has moved on significantly in recent years. Since the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, it was clear that browsing the web on these devices was doable, but not optimal. Whilst pinching, zooming and swiping all helped us to navigate, they weren’t really ideal. Now, with responsive websites, the layout is dictated by device width, which is a pretty reliable indicator of the size of your device. Images and text sizes should be presented appropriately; the only navigation you should perform on a well designed responsive site is scrolling.

Additionally, this new wave of devices are now ultimately more portable with their internet connection; website owners should be conscious of the size of their website, to keep load times to a minimum and not chew through visitors data plans!

Is this the same as a mobile website?

Not quite. A mobile website is a completely separate website, which you will be automatically directed to when the website detects you are using a mobile device. It was a great stop gap but had it problems, such as not always being able to detect the device correctly. Most mobile versions (typified by being on the subdomain of the main site, such as m.domain.com or mobile.domain.co.uk) aren’t geared up for detecting desktops either. If someone sends you a link to a site they are looking at on their mobile device, chances are it will look really bad when you look at it on your desktop.

A responsive website differs from this in the fact that everything is contained within the same website, the content will just be presented differently to you depending on your device.

Is having a responsive web design important?

Unequivocally, yes! The benefits of making sure your site is responsive are numerous, and the downsides so minor they aren’t worth considering. Why is it so important you may ask? Well, that leads us nicely in to our next post! (we’ll add the link in here when that one is published)

If you are looking for a new responsive web design, or would like some help with your existing site, get in contact today.

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