Using a mobile phone or device to browse the web is quickly becoming one of the most common ways for visitors to experience and interact with the web. Because mobile phones are relatively small and often feature touch screens, a standard design can make it harder for your customers to use your site on the go. For these reasons, converting an existing web site into a mobile optimised, touch screen friendly version is a common request.
Responsive web design is a way of making a single website that works effectively on both desktop browsers and the myriad of mobile devices on the market. Responsive architecture gives the best quality browsing experience – whether on a smartphone, tablet, netbook or e-reader, and regardless of the operating system.
People who browse while on-the-go have very different needs than those sitting at a desk. Responsive web sites re-organise themselves automatically according to the device viewing them, so that the same website provides a great experience everywhere. Desktops get a full-blown interface with videos, large images and animations. Smartphones get a simplified website that runs fast without the bells and whistles. Tablets and netbooks get something in between.
Mobile environments require simpler navigation, focused content and fast page loads. If a website has a responsive design, the user does not have to manipulate the site using “pinch and zoom,” and the flow of content is more appropriate for a smaller screen. The site may reduce the amount of content presented to the mobile visitor, so it has less clutter and is easier to use.
You must zoom to read the buttons and then you can view only 2 or 3 at a time. The Responsive website is much easier to use.
Think of responsive design as toolkit for web designers that enables them to offer a more app-like experience in their clients’ websites when viewed on a mobile or tablet device, all without having to build an app version.
Responsive design is a forward-thinking technology, as it makes sites that will work on next year’s devices. One of the major challenges in providing excellent websites for the mobile user is the vast number of devices emerging in the market place. At the international Consumer Electronics Show “CES 2012” more than 40 new Andriod based mobile devices were released and this doesn’t include any devices running on other platforms like iOS, or windows mobile. It’s no longer possible to test your website on every one of these new devices.
Responsive design works by grouping similar devices by screen size together to establish the target size “break points” your site is designed for. So you’re not designing the “iPhone” version of a site; you’re designing the version intended for all smartphones. The website is flexible and respond to the exact size of the screen viewing it. When a new device comes out that’s a little larger or smaller than your target, it’s going to work well on it too.
By essentially giving a custom solution for each mobile platform, responsive website design makes for a better user experience on a wider range of devices.
The website automatically adjusts according to the device’s screen size, and orientation. Large or small – landscape or portrait; responsive sites switches between these on-the-fly.
The layout of a responsive website can change to accommodate the device viewing it. On a desktop a large menu bar is easy to read and use, but on a smartphone that same menu shrinks to a dropdown menu, simplifying the layout for the smaller screen.
Responsive web design controls the amount of content presented to the visitor. On smartphones, thewebmarketeers.co.uk shows the a lot less content on the home page, whereas on larger screens there is more information.
The structure of a responsive website also makes it easy for search engines to read. Without responsive design you may be accidentally duplicating content in a mobile and non-mobile website, which dilutes your content’s rankings in the search engines and may even result in a ranking penalty. Google have also stated that having a non-mobile optimised website will effect your rankings negatively.
It’s very easy to see how your site would look in different browser sizes: simply change your browser width ( you may need to refresh the page) to see the effect it has; if you’re spending all your time scrolling left and right to try and find what you are looking for then responsive design will be a great improvement to your website!
If you’d like to discuss responsive design further, please email us here.
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