What is a responsive website

Modern day technology moves at an unrelenting pace.  Keeping up is an everyday occurrence for professionals and business owners. With these rapid advancements in technology comes the need to keep clients engaged with businesses through the internet. 

We are increasingly spending more of our time accessing web content on the move. This is due to the rapid integration of the internet as a standardised feature provided by current mobile devices. This allows users access to content wherever and whenever they like. 

Although this opens up a world of significant new opportunities for business, it doesn’t come without its problems, as marketing mangers and designers are now tasked with solving the problem: how do we create engaging mobile content for our business?

The rapid development of mobile devices, each with unique screen resolutions and orientation controls, make the process of designing websites for each application an impractical and time-consuming process. 

Responsive web design

One solution is using responsive web design. Responsive website design is an approach specifically for online content. 

Responsive web design is focused on creating an effective viewing experience on any device throughout different ordinations, sizes and environments. 

This is commonly achieved by using flexible grid layouts mixed with CSS media queries to adapt website structures to different screen resolutions, browser capability and screen orientation. 

The result should be a single website that works across multiple devices from large PC monitors, iPhone or Android screens and everything in-between, regardless of how the device is held or its screen size.

Responsive websites are designed using grid layouts that allow a design to be flexible to the endless number of screen resolutions that are becoming available. These layouts are not designed to work with maximum or minimum constraint and so use percentages, fixable image sizing, text re-sizing and positioning to correctly scale within different resolutions. 

Using JavaScript and media means these designs will also hide or display different sections of the website to make effective use of the screen space available, thereby aiming to provide a high quality user experience. 

Mobile first

A modern development of responsive design is “mobile first”. This is the process of creating a basic website that will work across a variety  browsers, with no advanced development languages used, such as JavaScript and then adding enhanced features upwards.

With mobile technology taking over many aspects of our lives and technology becoming more and more dominant and omnipresent, the importance of having a website available and easy to access on all mobile devices is now crucial for successful businesses. 

Responsive web design should be considered with any web-based project and, until the next best thing, is a solution that can deliver user focused and creative online results. 

Lawrence Holland is a digital specialist and director at creative communications agency Holland + Semark.

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