What is Responsive Web Design?
At its core the idea of Responsive Web Design is to build web pages that render well across all types of devices, without having to create separate custom versions for mobile or tablet or desktop. In other words, the layout of a webpage will respond to the user’s device.
Instead of giving webpage elements fixed pixel widths that look good on a widescreen desktop monitor, elements are instead given flexible layouts using percentages and ratios, with custom rules which trigger at certain screen sizes letting the content fluidly adapt to the user’s device.
But why build websites this way?
Back in the distant past of the mid to late 2000s, when internet-connected mobile devices were gaining real popularity, it made sense for websites to cater to this new audience. But many businesses already had websites that worked on desktop computers, so it was an expensive task to retool those existing sites into ones that worked cross-platform. The solution? For many the solution was to do nothing and let the users deal with a suboptimal experience, forcing them to zoom in to read small text and scroll the page left and right to view content that was too wide to fit on their screen.
For others the solution was to create separate websites for visitors on non-desktop devices, hosted on separate subdomains. That worked, but it had some drawbacks.
If the content of the website was static and non-database driven then that content needed to be updated in multiple locations any time changes were needed, which created unnecessary work and expense. Furthermore, these “secondary” website versions were often treated as just that – secondary. They’d be forgotten about, left to linger with issues not fixed or content not updated, giving users on mobile devices a poor user experience.
Then in 2014, for the first time in internet history, the stats showed that more users accessed the internet from their mobile devices than from a desktop computer. Mobile users were now the main audience. This shift was further enforced in 2015 when Google updated their search ranking algorithm to boost the page ranking of mobile-friendly websites. This change, dubbed Mobilegeddon, meant that if you wanted your site to rank in Google’s results, you had to make sure that your primary site worked well on mobile devices.
While the idea of responsive web design had existed and been championed by web developers for a few years prior, Google’s ranking update made the masses really take notice, and flexible, fluid, responsive websites became the norm.
Correl8 have been building responsive website for our clients for many years, so please contact us to discuss how we can help you with your next website.