I am sure you have already heard the term “responsive web design”. Some people use this term to prove that they have a modern website; however, most people do not truly understand what responsive web design is all about. After reading this article you will have a clear understanding of this technique and you will be able to find out whether or not it makes sense for your own website.
What Is Responsive Web Design?
For starters, responsive web design is nothing else but a particular approach to creating a website. Using this approach, you design a website that automatically adjusts itself to the size of the screen of the viewer. A responsive website will change the size of its elements when you resize your browser window or view the website on a different device such as your tablet, phone or even on a different computer with another screen size. We also use the term fluid web design to describe this effect. Even though responsive web design is just an approach to designing a website, it has major influence on how the website will be created thereafter. You have to keep in mind how the website will change fluidly, how its elements move and how they change in size. Moreover, the styling of your website may even have to change once a certain viewport size has been reached.
A simple example of responsive web design is using percentages instead of pixels when defining the sizes of your website’s elements. Imagine a simple web page with only text and a photo; much like the page you are viewing now. Where we would use millimeters in the real world to measure something, we use a unit called pixels in web design. The pixel unit is a fixed size; thus, your website looks the same no matter the size of the viewer’s screen. However, if you use percentages instead of pixels, your page will always adjust itself to the viewer’s screen size while still keeping its proportions. This is responsive web design.
Does Your Website Need a Responsive Design?
In order to answer this question properly, we need to look at your website today and in the future. First of all, you need to find out who is visiting and using your website today. If you don’t have a website, yet, then you need to figure out who your target group is going to be. What devices does your target group use? And the people who are visiting your website today, what devices do they use? If all of your traffic comes from desktop users then your website should do just fine without a responsive design. On the other hand, if your visitors use a wide variety of devices, then you have to make sure your website is accessible to your users no matter which device they are using and a responsive design would be a great solution.
There is one more factor to consider, though: the future. Right now, the future of the web seems to be on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and possibly many other devices that have not even been invented, yet. It is therefore generally a good idea to start building a responsive website now to be prepared for what the future brings. However, nobody can predict the future and you need to mainly look at who your website visitors are. A responsive design is not the answer to everything.