What is responsive web design and why do I need it?

Web design that adapts content layout in response to the device that it is being viewed on is the essence of responsive web design.  Web designers and developers have had to change tack in how they handle mobile browsers.  Initially, mobile websites using a subdomain such as m.mydomain.com with reduced content and a single column were seen as best practice.  This thinking has changed as mobile Smartphone technology has developed.

Responsive web design adapts to the device.  Customers on the website see the same content, at the same URL whether they are viewing it on an 1800 pixel desktop computer or on a 320 pixel Smartphone.  The layout of the content will be very different though.  Another advantage is for the client, as they only need to post content to the website once and no longer have to edit it for a mobile specific website.  Given the growth in mobile internet usage it also makes sense to concentrate on one message and one website.

Internet usage on mobile smart phones and tablets has grown exponentially, it is growing faster than desktop; and will overtake it in the near future.  People browsing the internet on their mobiles expect the same great content as those browsing at their desk at work and if your current web design doesn’t allow your website to display in a usable way on a Smartphone, you could be missing business opportunities.

So how does responsive web design work?  Thanks to CSS web developers can now define how content will render based on min/max device and display width/ height and on device orientation e.g landscape.  CSS allows up to 13 different factors to be taken into consideration and because of these multiple factors CSS media queries work better than a simple screen resolution detection system.

In Ireland we are ahead of the curve in terms of our mobile phone usage, there are more active mobile phones in Ireland than there are people.  You only need to look around you on a bus or train or in a café and you will see people all around browsing the internet on their mobile phone.

Responsive web design is just one of the important factors that you need to consider when developing a new website. If you are developing a new website or redeveloping an old one – talk to us – we have lots of project management experience in this area and we can also help to recommend the right developer for your project, be it an e-commerce or a corporate website.