Responsive design is the term used to describe websites that respond to varying device and screen sizes. Sites developed in this way utilize specific style techniques, multiple stylesheets and client-side scripting methods to ensure all page element shift, resize and even disappear or appear depending on the screen size. The power of this development technique is that it allows a website to always display properly without requiring various different versions of the site. The site will look great on a smartphone, your tablet, your laptop and desktop.
The way users read and interact with content on their mobile phones, tablets and smaller displays is completely different than their standard desktops and we can see how companies have responded with mobile versions of their websites and apps that basically just duplicate their website in an easier to digest format. But these methods many times simply just provide additional costs and maintenance as well as multiple locations to ensure information is up to date and accurate.
With responsive design, we have one website, but multiple, if not infinite display possibilities based on the user’s screen resolution. Blocks of content shift, buttons change size, menus evolve into dropdowns and so much more so that the user experience is optimal no matter what device they are using.
Not only is this really awesome looking and makes your site look like you pulled out all the stops and thought of everything… but it is really quite practical since it presents the optimal viewing and navigation experience to every visitor, regardless of device or screen size. Menu too small to see on an iPhone? No worries! With responsive design we will change that menu into a dropdown… or perhaps a slide-out large-print menu. Those call to actions too small to read or tap on your Droid Razor? Not a problem at all… with a responsive website, those buttons can be stacked and displayed at a larger size. Text shifts, images shrink, columns stack.
Responsive design has trended through 2012 and continues to be a sought-after method and technique. If you are looking into a new website… think about having it developed as a responsive site.
Our website, the Rock Paper Simple website, is a great example of a responsive website. When deciding if responsive design is something you should have or include in your website, consider your needs and goals and weigh them against the benefits it brings to your website. If your visitors are likely to be visiting with their mobile devices or tablets, then it might be a good option for you. If your ideal design just doesn’t look or function right on a mobile device, then maybe responsive design is right for your website.
Like I tell all my clients, just because it’s cool and has great benefits, doesn’t mean you do it. First make sure it makes sense for your business and can help increase your bottom line… then step out and do it. If responsive design helps the readability of your site and will help your visitors digest your content better and have a better experience… and all of that leads to more leads or conversions for you… then, absolutely, your website should have responsive design!