Website Design

Understanding the Basics of Responsive Web Design

It's a well-known fact that in today's society, having a website is of the utmost importance. You'll not only increase your brand awareness with a website but also your customer service capabilities. When combining these two components together, an increase in your sales revenue is sure to take place. What you need to realize, however, is that building and maintaining a website isn't as simple as publishing it on the web and hoping customers will find it. Instead, your site needs to be responsive.

What is a Responsive Website?

A responsive website is exactly as the name implies -- responsive according to the device it is being viewed on. This means whether you're viewing the site on a 5" smartphone, a 22" computer screen or an 11" tablet, the site will still be easy to view and navigate.

Responsive web design started to trend in 2013 when more and more cell phone users hopped on the smartphone bandwagon, with the most of them using iOS and Android operating systems. To put it simply, more people are surfing the Internet using mobile devices rather than sitting behind a computer screen, and this is why responsive web design is of such importance.

Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, states that "For those of us who create websites and services, all this leads to a singular conclusion: A million screens have bloomed, and we need to build for all of them."

The Characteristics of a Responsive Website

When you have a website that is responsive, it will include various elements that respond appropriately according to the device and browser it is being viewed on. Take for instance a website that has four main columns when being viewed on a 19" desktop computer screen. However, when viewing the same site on an 11" tablet, the site takes on two columns, and by scrolling down, the viewer is then provided with two more columns. This instance demonstrates a responsive website.

If, however, the website it 'fixed,' then it would not take on the format that it is necessary for it to be viewed as preferred. In fact, 'fixed' websites tend to force the user to scroll horizontally, and by nature, users don't prefer this type of scrolling. If they are forced to scroll horizontally, they are likely to completely exit out of your site and search for one that is responsive.

How are Responsive Websites Designed?

At the heart of any responsive website are fluid grids. The page elements are sized proportionally, which is unlike a 'fixed' website where the elements are sized by pixels. This means instead of designing a column according to a set number of pixels, it is designed according to percentages. For example, if a website has three primary columns, each column is given a certain percentage which correlates with the other columns and elements -- column one takes up 70 percent of the page, column two takes up 20 percent, and column three takes up 10 percent.

It's also important to note that any media being displayed on a responsive site are sized relatively to other elements, meaning they stay proportionally correct within the columns that they are meant to stay in.

Responsive Web Design: Three Considerations

As with any type of web design, when creating a responsive site, there are many considerations to keep in mind, with three of the most important being:

  • Mouse v. touch
  • Download speeds
  • Mobile versions
  • The Takeaway

Responsive web design allows your site to be viewed on various devices in a manner that makes the web pages easy to view and navigate; this leads to enhanced customer satisfaction.