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What is Responsive Web Design and Why Do We Need It?

Responsive Web Design

The world of web and mobile is awash with buzz terms, some stick around, some (fortunately) do not. One that is here to stay is Responsive Design. So… what is a Responsive Web Design? and why should you care?

What is Responsive Design?

When I started out in web, we had one platform. A rather large, beige desktop computer sat under a desk and a monitor the size of a caravan. Today, we have laptops, tablets, smartphones and more to come. The result of this explosion in platforms is that a website that would look and size OK on one screen, would not necessarily look OK on another. e.g. a large flatscreen monitor and a low spec android phone. An obvious response to this situation would be to build a website for each platform. This approach leads to issues with web design and development costs, several developments running in parallel, difficulties with ongoing maintenance, maintaining content and multiple databases. Customers expect a smooth, seamless experience when browsing, or shopping on the web. They need to be able to do this from any platform, whether it be their desktop computer at home to their smartphone whilst on a train.

The answer… Responsive Web Design

A website built with considerations for other platforms (e.g. iPhone, iPad, android phones) are described as being responsive to their environment. With special coding, it is possible for a website to know which platform it is being viewed from. By using special CSS coding techniques, the website can respond to present the user with a site suited for the platform it is being viewed from. This means that the size and positioning of text and images on a website changes depending on the size of the screen it is being viewed on. The result -  a single website built for all platforms.

Want to see a responsive web design in action? Drag the bottom right corner of your browser to the left or view nextbigleap.com from your mobile.

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