Responsive web design is a result of modern technology. As recently as 5-10 years ago there would have been no need or use for a website to be responsive so what has caused this massive change? The answer is simply mobile phones and tablets.
The Rise of Mobile and Tablet
According to Google, mobile search queries could actually surpass desktop searches as soon as this year, 2014! Mobile & Tablet traffic is on a huge increase over the past 18 months and this is coupled with the decrease in traffic of desktop. As such Mobile and Tablet are set to overtake desktop imminently!
This essentially means that more people will view the internet via a mobile phone or tablet, than on a desktop computer or laptop. Therefore to cater for this it is just as, if not more important, that a website functions and looks as good on a phone, or tablet as it does on a desktop.
The web practice for this originally came into effect a few years ago around 2011. The boom in smartphone users meant that an increasing amount of people could search the internet via their mobile phone. The problem this caused was that a basic website would have been designed to have been viewed in a desktop screen with a resolution of around 1024 x 768 pixels. So when viewed on a mobile phone with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels the web browser reacts by ‘squashing’ the web page into the screen. This makes the appearance of the page strange, makes the text unreadable and most annoyingly, means the user has to keep zooming into areas they want to read or view as they are too small to see without zooming.
The Original Solution
In response to this web designers began to make 2 separate websites. The first website would be a desktop website that would be displayed if the user was using a desktop computer or laptop. If the website was being viewed via a smartphone, then a mobile version of the site would be loaded that would be optimised for viewing in a mobile phone. This worked for a short while, but was complicated further by the fact that technology does not stand still for very long.
The use of mobile phones continued to rise dramatically, as well as the variations of phone screen size. Along with this the iPad was released and gave people a whole new way to view the web. So what were web designers going to do now? Before only 2 websites were required, but now it may take any number of websites for varying phone screen resolutions and multiple different tablets of contrasting shapes and sizes. This would prove to be very time consuming for the web developer and thus very costly for the client. Time for responsive web design to come in and save the day.
The Responsive Solution
Designing individual websites for every screen size was obviously never going to work so a new solution came to the fore. This concept was for the website to respond to any screen size and orientation to optimise the viewing experience. This would allow for easy reading and navigation without the need to zoom in and out and pan across the page.. If the responsive web design is done correctly it is possible for a website to be as visually pleasing and functional for a mobile device as it is for a desktop.
Responsive Web Design: The Conclusion
So there you have it, responsive web design is now expected in every website. When a potential customer visits a website they expect to have a good experience. If they see a site that is awkward to view and navigate they will go elsewhere. The solution has been found and it is time to embrace it.
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