What is Responsive Web Design?

Thursday May 29, 2014

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Everyone in the marketing field is talking about Responsive Web Design. So what is it exactly and why should you care? When a web designer builds a web site using Responsive Web Design principles, it means that when your web site is viewed on various different devices, the content will be automatically sized and arranged to fit the screen.

I want to make a distinction here. We are not talking about a separate mobile web site in addition to your existing web site. We are talking about one web site that works for all devices.

So how is this done? There are many responsive frameworks which are in essence a library of code that web designers and web developers use to tell each element on the page what its role is in the greater scheme of the page. This causes the various elements to be either arranged in columns within a row in a desktop sized view while those same elements are stacked in one column of many rows.

The best part of this concept, besides the fact that there is only one set of content to maintain, is that you can rest assured that your audience is able to use the site regardless of the device they are using and be able to experience the content in a way that makes sense on the given display. [Figure 1]

In my view, it is an absolute must that we use Responsive Web Design methods for any new web development project that we are taking on. Google Insights reports that,

"93 % of people who used mobile to research go on to make a purchase."

Source: Nielsen & Google, Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings, November 2013

If you own a business marketing to consumers, you should be jolted to attention right here. People using mobile devices that find your site and research your products are highly motivated potential customers and are ready to make a purchase.

There are tons of statistics about the relevance of mobile device usage. Stop for a second and think about the last time you were at the grocery store, the doctor's office, your favourite coffee shop and think about how many people were either holding a smartphone or a tablet. Just about every person you see from 5 to 55 is holding one. I see an increasing number of mature individuals over 55 using devices too to check Facebook and keep up with what's happening with the grandkids.