What Is Responsive Web Design?

Among the numerous web approaches in place, responsive web design presents distinct manifestation of how efficiency in adaptability can be achieved. It involves the crafting a website to level visibility across a diverse range of screen platforms by adapting to the reception configuration.

In other words, responsive web design (RWD) optimizes viewing experience through minimal resizing, scrolling and panning to provide easy reading on varied displays. There are several differently configured displays from desktop monitors to the wide domain of mobile device screens. There exist several different screen technologies and resolutions across available web accessing gadgets. This presents a difficulty in ensuring a website’s contents can be viewed from any screen despite the variations in configuration.

What is Responsive Web Design?

When the ongoing patterns are monitored, mobile web access has been an increasing feature with the development of efficient gadgets like tablets, iPads, iPhones and Smartphones. This trend is forecasted to continue and internet access through mobile devices will replace once treasured PCs. The underlying disadvantage is the availability of a variety of mobile gadgets with different display capabilities hence the need for different websites layouts. This implies that any online business would require multiple websites designed for navigation capabilities of the different resolutions. Otherwise, they would simply loose customers whose devices can not display the sites contents since new mobile gadgets with new displays are developed very frequently. This called for a more effective design approach that would allow the site to adapt its layout and fit the display of any mobile device. 

How Responsive Web Design Works

A website designed using RWD is able to adapt its layout to the viewing environment present in the device used. This is achieved through the use of fluid proportion-oriented grids and flexible images as well as the CSS (cascading style sheets) media queries which are extensions of the media rule. The basic principle of fluid grids enables the page element sizing to render in relative units like fractions and percentages rather than the absolute pixels/points. This means images and other media are displayed in relative proportions that enable them to remain within their elements. The media queries ensure the page is able to utilize different CSS styles that are compatible with the characteristics of the device on which the site is displayed. The common characteristic used is browser width.

Media queries simply refer to CSS modules that allow rendering of the site’s contents to adapt to environments characteristics such as resolution. CSS is the style sheets’ language that describes the format and look of a document written in markup language. Almost all web pages use these style sheets and the technology is used to distinguish and separate the document’s content from presentation. This separation of elements such as font, color, layout among others can enhance content accessibility and provide flexible specification of the presentation characteristics.

Developing RWD into a website is a simple procedure that most web designers can perform. To test whether the design is effective, mobile devices with different browsers and resolutions should be used in accessing the site. Elements such as photos, fonts and even general page layout will be resized and rearranged to fit in the screens accordingly. Another method is to change the browser settings to a smaller size. The content and layout should be able to re-fit in the new window in real time.


Benefits of Responsive Web Design

There are many benefits of this technology that all amount to efficiency in service provision as well as increased revenues. Responsive web design cuts down the labor web designers and user interface developers incur when creating multiple layout configurations for the varied display capabilities. This self adaptive technology means designers can automate the pages to adapt to the environment which they are displayed. 

The Advantages 

Optimized display 

RWD allows the site to identify the configurations of the display environment which is then used to restructure the appearance accordingly. This ensures the device display is fully exploited and maximized through correct scaling of fonts, images, icons and other HTML elements. It also reduces spaces and under-fits as well as ensuring the images displayed do not appear outside the containing box.

One site for many

With RWD, website owners can design a satisfactory site to serve and display their contents on many devices regardless of the different specification. Since the site contents adjust to the browser and screen configurations there is no longer the need for multiple versions of the same site.

Improved service

In the recent years and even today, some sites have relied on other mechanisms like redirecting users to other compatible versions of the website. This results in delayed access in addition to suppressed and reduced content quality which users consider unsatisfactory. RWD provides an effective way that renders website content to most devices without need for redirection or reloading, which is a much better service offer. Besides, clients may feel uncomfortable when redirected due to the increased existence of spy/hack sites that operate in similar mechanisms. This often results to quick exits that amount to customer loss for online businesses, although RWD now solves this problem.

Summary

Responsive web design will continue to develop in order to ensure maximum optimization of display monitors of different characteristics. It already exhibits significant benefits through reduced design processes and better service delivery. This abstract web design approach also enhances the ergonomic aspect since low definition devices are able to display contents in correct proportioning and scaling.This helps to reduce blur.

PCs have bigger monitors, which is what most sites configured their designs to fit into since they were the commonly used browsing devices. However, the technological advancements have resulted in the development of phones efficient in web browsing. The numerous advantages of mobile networking have since overridden preference for PCs and more mobile devices capable of browsing are innovated at a rapid rate. It is therefore apparent that website owners will need to redesign their pages to accommodate this new development. For any online business aspiring to mitigate weaknesses while exploiting opportunities, responsive web design presents an effectual technology to incorporate.

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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