If you have ever accessed a website on a tablet or smartphone and found that the display was slightly different, you have been on a responsive website. This is a technology that web designers and developers use to allow anyone to see the website from any type of device with the same quality viewing experience.
The Screen Size Issue
When websites were first designed, there was only one type of device accessing the site, and that was a desktop computer with the website displayed on the monitor. And, if you are old enough to remember the early days of monitors, you also remember they were standard in size.
All websites displayed on the screen of all monitors since this was identical to the screen the website was designed with. This worked very well until there was the move from desktops and monitors to laptops, then to internet connected phones, smartphone and tablets.
This created a range of different screen sizes, which only continues to be more of an issue. Websites that were designed for a monitor didn’t display correctly on these smaller screens, literally overlaying text areas and images or failing to display at all.
The Answer in Responsive Design
Responsive web design evolved out of various attempts to create what were called liquid or flexible website elements and layouts. It has only been since mid to late 2008 that responsive web design has been available.
A responsive website will automatically display content from the site to suit the size and shape of the device’s screen. Some elements will not be displayed on a smartphone, but will be present when viewing from a desktop. Other changes can include the site moving from a side to side display for a large screen to a scrolling display or changes in the navigation buttons on the site to make it easy to use with a touchscreen device.
In other words, the website itself responds to the device to give the viewer the best experience. This is so important for business and it will only continue to have a larger and larger impact in the future as by the end of 2014 the number of online searchers using tablets or smartphones had already overtaken those completing searches on a desktop.
Without responsive websites, businesses will simply be passed over by this ever increasing part of the buying public. Taking advantage of the technology will have a positive impact on your business today, but an even greater positive impact in the very near future.