How Responsive Web Design Works


 09/16/2014 12:00 AM

More than a decade ago, before the advent of internet-ready mobile devices, people used immovable, bulky computers to view websites. Designing websites that looked good at a single resolution was standard and quite adequate for all purposes. With the advent of internet-enabled devices and their acceptance by more people, web owners had to create content designed to fit any size screen and device. This manner of designing content is called responsive web design.

Before the coming in of responsive web design, there was mobile design. Mobile design is the creation of entirely new websites or web apps to provide content for the mobile user. This meant the creation of one design for the kindle, netbook, iPad, iPhone and another for the BlackBerry. In other words, several websites for the same company targeting all the different screen resolutions imaginable. This is not the case with responsive web design.

What is responsive web design?

Responsive design means using the same syntax, same context, and the same domain that is manipulated by CSS3 Media Queries and/or JavaScript. Responsive design allows your website to respond to the different viewports – enhancing your user’s experience on any device. The different viewports available today include mobile devices, tablets, laptops, desktop monitors and their equivalent orientations.

Instead of implementing different sites for each device, responsive design acts as the underlying base of the website’s deployment. Responsive Web Design is possible through the adoption of three simple functions:

  • An adaptive layout that utilizes media queries for modification of the web design to suit the diverse screen sizes
  • A fluid grid that utilizes relative units such as percentages instead of fixed units like pixels
  • Flexible images and media that are scaled along the relative units meaning they never expand beyond the containing element

Although Responsive Web Design started as a trend, it has quickly morphed into an evolutionary step in the development and design of websites.


Advantages of responsive web design

In 2009, only 1.2% of internet traffic was from mobile devices – hardly enough to justify additional investment or attention. Fast forward to 2012, the exponential growth of smartphones and the increased network speeds saw the figures rise to 13% without even taking into account tablets. By 2015, out of 3.5 billion internet users, over half of them (1.9 billion) will be using mobile devices. So why have you not started creating a responsive website?

If the figures above are not enough to convince you, here are staggering benefits of implementing responsive web design:

  • Saving money: You only have to pay for the development of a single website. No more worrying about mobile websites or apps anymore. You will only have to provide support to one site meaning lower monthly web support costs
  • A time saver: Instead of spending so much time creating content for every channel you would like to reach, all you need to do is adjust layout and amount of the visual content initially created. You also do not have to worry about deploying and programming for multiple channels. A single set is all that is required – meaning increased efficiency
  • It helps your SEO efforts: Consistent URLs for desktop, mobile users and mobile and desktop search bots create uniformity. Uniformity makes for better interaction with the user and is a lot easier for Google’s link algorithms, increasing crawler efficiency
  • A better performing website: A mobile first approach leads to cleaner, faster performing code for desktop and mobile sized devices
  • Easier location of the information for your customers: Visitors are more likely to turn into customers if they can buy your products or services via desktop and mobile devices

Even Google encourages website owners to follow the best practice using responsive web design.

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