Responsive: the new web buzzword

by Mark | Posted under: TIps and Advice

Responsive: the new web buzzword

You may recently have heard the word ‘responsive’ being bandied around in relation to websites, it’s the latest hot topic, so I thought a few words to clarify exactly what is meant by this would help. In a nutshell a responsively designed website is one that is able to resize/reconfigure itself to fit all devices from mobile phones to large desktop monitors, an increasingly important requirement as more people consume their content on phones and tablets. In the past websites wishing to catering to mobile and desktop devices would often create two different sites, one for the desktop and one for the mobile device. However there are a number of problems with this approach, not the least of which is you have to create and maintain in sync two sites which on a large complicated site can quickly become tiresome and expensive. With a responsive design the initial cost maybe slightly higher because the designs and layouts have to be tested to work across all the different screen sizes but once the site is designed then it should be no more difficult to maintain than an unresponsive site.

The key to designing an effective responsive site is to target the screen size and not the device, this is far more reliable and future proof, who knows if apple will change the size of the ipad screen in it’s next version, but if your site optimized to work across a number of screen sizes you don’t need to worry. How to approach the design of responsive sites is still a matter of some debate but most people currently seem to think you should start with the smallest screen size first and work up upwards. Typical differences between how the site looks on a small device as compared to a large monitor are things like changing the navigation from a horizontal list to a drop down, making buttons bigger for touch screen interaction and removing unnecessary decorative elements.

Whether you decide to invest the extra budget into a responsive design is an individual decision based on where you think you’re target market will be viewing your site from, but increasingly more and more people are viewing on mobile devices so it’s definitely worth considering.

PS. If your wondering about the image, cuttlefish change their colours in reaction to their surroundings