Responsive Design – From Corner Case to Cornerstone

The days of mobile-specific websites are coming to an end, thanks to recent advances in responsive design.

The languages we build websites in – from HTML with CSS for design, to Ruby, PHP, .NET and others – were never designed with mobile devices in mind. Until very recently, mobile devices had limited abilities to display websites with complex functions such as JavaScript, pages with some kinds of forms, and had trouble accepting some kinds of input – this became especially obvious during the period when touchscreen phones were still more novelty than standard.

Today, however, we accept the smartphone as a common means by which people surf the web – mobile traffic is rising all the time – and these phones are capable of almost everything a desktop or laptop is, in terms of browser power. There’s no longer a strong case for creating any kind of specific-to-mobile website, and much less of one for branded apps unless they actually fit with your business functions.

Mobile used to be a thing businesses did to show how savvy and ahead of the curve they were. Now, they’re closer to standard-of-action – and responsive design is a big part of making that a reality.

What is responsive design anyway?

Simply put, responsive and adaptive design are methods where the same website – using the same code, the same framework, and the same content – are displayed according to different rules automatically, needing only the information provided by the device they’re being viewed on to do so.

Certain elements of the site change size, change how they function, or even how they’re displayed – and in which order – as your screen gets smaller, or as the environment you’re viewing the website in changes.

Using responsive design, we can build a single website which keeps all of its functions – and information – regardless of whether a visitor is on a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone of any size and capability.

With the introduction, and recent completion, of HTML5, designing websites which react to their environments has become a lot easier.

The easiest example of this is the differences in our own website you can see depending on how you’re viewing it.

You can test this out easily by visiting our site on your PC, and a tablet, and a smartphone, to see how it changes. In fact, forget the other two devices for a moment – using your PC browser, you can see responsive design in action by shrinking the width of your browser window. You’ll see how some elements shrink, change shape entirely, or disappear depending on how valuable they are on smaller screens. In some cases, this can even affect font sizes, to make readability on these small windows better.

We’re not limited by mobile technology any more – and that’s important to the future of design.

Traffic from mobile sources, including both tablets and smartphones, has been on the rise for years. Now, we have the tools to make sure every business is appropriately represented wherever they can be found – without losing information, or causing an inconvenience to the customer.

Why does responsive design matter as a business choice?

The ability to build one functioning website, which works on any device capable of browsing the internet, is a great benefit for efficiency. With a strong, responsive website, you have a tool that works everywhere – and is capable of doing everything you need it do.

By only building a single website, without leaving off features or key information, businesses can avoid the temptation to spend far more on mobile apps and other limited tools. Yes, there’s still space to consider a branded app for your business – but now, that’s a strategic decision, rather than a choice made for expedience. Apps are still a big deal, but that’s a discussion best left for another day.

Are you using a responsive website yet? If so – or if not – we’d love to hear about your experience with it. Leave a comment below or get in touch on our contact page!

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Source: Hello BLOG