Responsive web design is an approach to building a website that strives to achieve optimal user experiences across a wide range of Internet enabled devices. The phrase “optimal user experiences” refers to straightforward reading, browsing, navigating and other forms of interactivity with minimal resizing and panning by end users of the website. In other words, the goal of responsive web design is to make a website work equally well on all devices that could be loading it.
This is important because as the late Steve Jobs of Apple said, “We are now living in a post-pc era.” Starting with the stunning success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad product lines, followed by Android-based phones and tablets, and now Microsoft with its Surface tablet, Windows Phones and even Windows 8 PCs - Visitors to your website are no longer limited to traditional PCs with a keyboard and mouse interface.
Responsive web design takes into account the real-world differences between the wide variety of devices your website visitors are using. These devices categories include:
- Large Desktop Displays
- Laptops and Netbooks
- Windows 8 Convertible PCs with both keyboard and mouse plus touch screen interactivity
- Tablets of varying sizes, aspect ratios and operating systems
- Smart Phones and other handheld electronics
In the near future, these responsive web design device categories will likely expand to include Smart TVs as well.
How Responsive Web Design Works
In simplistic terms, responsive web design uses a styling technique called "Media Queries" to determine how much physical space it has to work with. Then, fluid grids and other flexible elements resize and otherwise adjust themselves to fit within the confines of the available space.
If you are reading this article on a desktop or laptop computer, try making your browser window more narrow and watch how the website adjusts. If you have a smart phone and/or tablet, try loading this website on those devices to see responsive web design in action on a real-world device.
The benefits to responsive web design are clear. A website is built once and works seamlessly across a multitude of different devices, regardless of how large or small they may be.
Now a Standard Feature
At Cascading Media, we feel so strongly about the importance of responsive web design, we now include it with every website we build. It is not an optional “nice to have” add-on, responsive web design is a standard feature - much like the engine in your car.
If you are interested in upgrading your current website to include responsive web design features, or if you would like to build a new site from scratch, please look into our Website Packages and Pricing or contact us with any further questions.