Why You Should be Thinking About Responsive Design

David Jeppson

August 14, 2012

Technology and the web influence our lives more than ever before, affecting everything we do from work, play, learning, travel, communication… the list is endless! The challenge that many of us face is the daunting task of keeping up with all of it, and choosing to learn and use the technologies that will help us the most.

One technology that should certainly be understood is that of Responsive Web Design (RWD). Responsive Web Design, or simply responsive design, is an exciting new way of approaching how websites adapt to the environment they are viewed in.

It’s not breaking news that the web is no longer a wave that is only surfed using the traditional desktop or laptop computer. It is now accessed by a growing myriad of devices. From mobile devices such as Smartphone’s and tablets, to non-mobile devices like gaming consoles and TV’s. These many devices comprise a variety of screen sizes and resolutions. This poses the design problem of getting the content of your site to fit on a small screen while also being able to use the real estate you get from a large screen, like a desktop monitor or even an HDTV.

Before the development of responsive web design, the answer was to develop and maintain individual sites or apps for each device. But this approach is very time consuming and costly. So, many companies have decided to just stick with the traditional website that fits on the average computer monitor.

The problem with this thinking is the growing loss of audience that comes with not providing content that plays nice with as many devices as possible. Many experts estimate that by 2014, the number of users accessing the web via mobile devices will surpass that of web access via desktop computers.

So how do you get your web content to as many web users as possible without developing a bunch of sites to fit all the screens out there? Responsive design provides a solution.

Responsive websites respond to their environment using either an Adaptive (several predefined widths) or Responsive (several fluid grid layouts) approach, or both.

Responsive design uses CSS(Cascading Style Sheets) to perform what’s called a media query which identifies the device accessing the page. It then serves up content that fits nicely on that screen. It is important to note however that Responsive Web Design is not just a simple template or single technology used to build a website, but rather a combination of ideas and techniques that outline a new course toward approaching the web, so they behave more intelligently, and with much more flexibility. Its like having a quality adjustable wrench that works on a variety of nut and bolt sizes rather than needing a handful of fixed sized wrenches to get the job done.

Here at Jibe Media, we can help you get started on getting your site responsive and reaching your audience no matter how large or small the size of their screen!