We live in a world of smartphones, tablets, and thousands of different devices – all with different screen sizes. As a web developer, it’s my job to keep up with the trend and ensure websites I build adopt this responsive strategy.
What is responsive design?
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).
As Wikipedia states above, responsive design ensures that your website is optimized for all screen sizes, ranging from desktop computers, to tablets, to smartphones.
It also works as one website. For example, years ago when visiting a website on your desktop computer you’d remain on www.domain.com. However, if you was to visit that website on your phone, you’d be redirected to m.domain.com – a completely seperate website built specifically for smartphones. Today though, if you was to visit a website that’s responsive on you computer and drag the browser window down in size then the website would adapt to the new screen size – this is a prime example of responsive design and how it works.
Why is responsive design so important?
As previously mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are thousands of variations of different devices out there, all varying in size. As there is no standard width for a smartphone or tablet, it becomes more and more practical to have a responsive website by the day.
Making your website responsive not only makes it look good on phones, it also makes it futureproof. Not only will it work well on devices which are currently on the market – it will also work on devices to come for a number of years.
It’s more SEO friendly
Did you know Google are now using responsive design as a ranking factor? If your website is responsive and your competitors isn’t, then you have one over on them when people are searching for your services or products.
Building a mobile version of a website would probably double your design and development costs – as effectively two websites are being designed and developed. However, responsive design is part of the same website. You only ever have one website which adapts to screen size. While some freelancers/agencies charge for responsive web design as an optional extra, others (like myself) include it as a standard.
Everyday, more and more websites go responsive. If yours is not yet responsive, then now is a good time to consider it. If you’re looking to get a new website developed, then ensure it’s responsive too.
Update: March 2015
As of April 21st 2015, Google will be penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly in mobile search results. Get a responsive website now.
Update: April 2015
Read more about mobile websites at Google Developers. Here, you can check if your website is already mobile friendly, read best SEO practices, and more. – Thanks to Thomas Digby.