Responsive web designs allow websites to stretch across multiple platforms: computers, smartphones, and the increasingly common tablet.
With a responsive design, websites will look great no matter the size of screen it’s shown on. As the screen (or window) size gets smaller, the elements on the page miniaturize, some elements disappear, and the site becomes streamlined. Here are some of the main features of responsive web designs.
Website Looks Beautiful No Matter the Device
Image via Flickr by Antoine Lefeuvre
By having your website created to be responsive, you know that it will work and function well for mobile devices of all sizes and shapes. In 2014, according to Canalys, 285 million tablets will be sold, making up 50 percent of the total number of PCs sold. With so many computer-buyers choosing tablets over desktop and laptop computers, knowing how to create and design responsive websites is crucial to keeping up with web design trends.
Updates Are Easier
With a responsive website, you don’t need a different version of the site for each size of screen or device. Edits suddenly become easier because when you change text, colors or images, you won’t have to make changes in multiple locations. The site is the same no matter what device it’s viewed on and there is no need for multiple versions of the site.
Design Focuses on Elements
Rather than showing a static web page and how it will look on the screen, designers can focus more on the elements of the website. As the website moves from desktop and laptop to tablet and smartphone, these elements will shift to fit the new screen size. To demonstrate how these elements will shift, designers can then label them (such as A, B, C, and D) and create basic wireframes that show where the elements will shift to—not only from desktop to mobile device by from vertical screens to horizontal screens.
Getting Information Across to a Wide Audience
According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), mobile web best practices state that “as far as is reasonable, the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using. However, it does not mean that exactly the same information is available in exactly the same representation across all devices.” So whether they’re using T-Mobile wireless phones, Android tablets or desktop computers, users should have a positive experience with websites you design.
No Wrong Links or Need for Redirects
Let’s say that Sally is trying to learn more about how to get her son to eat more green vegetables and so is researching what cruciferous vegetables are and why they’re considered “super foods.” Sally starts reading an article on her laptop and then needs to ride the train to work and so decides to pull up that article on her phone. Finally, once she’s at work, she wants to read more on her lunch break on her tablet.
According to Google, this is often done by saving the link to the site in some form. Some users email themselves the link while others will use Chrome, which allows synchronization from one device to the next, including browsing history and bookmarks. For responsive websites, this isn’t a problem, but for sites that are designed using different URLs depending on the device, this can cause issues for users and they may have issues bringing the page up.
Designing Websites for the Future
What does the future hold for websites? It’s hard to say. Smart TVs are becoming more and more popular, and without responsive websites, web designers may find the need to design websites specifically for these devices as well. Suddenly, there are four versions of the website—or is it six, seven or more? And what devices are in store for the future? By having a website that is adaptive, no matter the size of screen, it won’t matter what devices arrive on the scene in the coming years. Websites you design will be ready!
Embrace the future of web design. Learn the techniques of designing responsive websites and wow your clients with a streamlined design across devices.