In this day and age it's more than just important to ensure your website is multiple platform and mobile-ready. It is completely necessary to have a website that fits on any screen. From browser to browser and mobile device to mobile device, there are many different online platforms from which your website may be viewed. If it doesn't work with all of them, you risk alienating a portion of potential customers. Responsive design ensures that your website is ready on any platform all the time.
So What is Responsive Design?
Responsive websites respond to their environment. That is, if viewed from a mobile device, a tablet, or a laptop on Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, or any other browser the website will still function with its intended purpose. A responsive design uses a multiple fluid grid layout. This means that one layout is used that will respond to any environment it's put into.
The term responsive design is often confused with an adaptive design. Adaptive design means that a website is built with multiple fixed layouts. It is actually better to choose a responsive design instead of an adaptive design.
Why Responsive Design?
Every day the number of devices, platforms and browsers that websites can be viewed on grows. This growth means that web design needs to become increasingly flexible. A responsive design does just that, it flexes to fit the device, platform or browser it's viewed from. If you choose an adaptive design, every time there is an update to technology, which is more often than you would think, you would need to update each of your fixed designs. With a responsive design, you just need to update one fluid design.
How Do We Build a Responsive Website?
The general rule of thumb on building responsive websites is to start small and work your way up. At M'Agency, we always begin with the mobile site and work our way to the largest screen. Then, using CSS media queries, a web designer or developer is able to create code that ensures the site is molded to various browser sizes and functions.
Some people like to use premade responsive design framworks, like Twitter's Bootstrap, and others build their own. The difference is the amount of control and time put into each one. A framework saves time and money, but building your own allows more control over its look and functionality.
Here are a few things you should consider when planning to build your responsive website:
Time and Money
How much time and money do you have to invest? Should you choose a framework or a customized responsive template?
Does your content change with the screen? Mostly the content you show should get shorter as the screen gets smaller. No one on a mobile device is going to make it through a 5 sentence paragraph, but someone on a computer may be interested to read more in depth.
How do you want the website to function and can your server provide the support for this kind of performance?
Design and Development Process
It's a long and arduous process to build a responsive website, but one that is well worth it. Just remember to be patient with your designer and the rewards will be plenty.
Sites like Google are now rumored to put less priority on websites that are not responsive or mobile ready. Other than the content and layout of your site, the design is also of great importance. In order to keep up with increasingly selective search engine optimization trends, it's extremely important to ensure your website is built with a responsive design.
Building a website with responsive design for every browswer ever invented is unrealistic. Older browsers are essentially obsolete the minute the creator replaces them with a new one. This means that responsive design is usually optimized for the latest browsers in existence.