Why is Responsive Web Design a different way of thinking?

Why is Responsive Web Design a different way of thinking?

I ask myself what kind of device you’re reading this story on. Your laptop? At your desk on a large screen? Or perhaps you‘re reading this post on your smartphone? Today, thanks to responsive design this isn’t an issue anymore.

This blog post you’re reading is actually built using a responsive design technique which allows a website to adapt to different screen sizes without restricting or hiding any content. The content that’s accessible on large monitors is also accessible on tablets and mobile phones; it’s just displayed differently so it adapts to the size of the screen it’s being viewed on.

To see this in action, view this page in a desktop browser and slowly reduce the width of your browser window; you will see the design adapt to the screen size. The page layout reforms and rescales the content to first suit a tablet device width, then smaller mobile devices. You will see that as the page width scales down the website navigation is replaced by an icon; this is to help make better use of available space. You can click (or touch) the menu icon to view the full menu.

The idea of responsive design was first proposed in an interesting article in 2010 by Ethan Marcotte, in which he proposed that responsive design required a “different way of thinking” to keep up with the evolution of mobile devices.

So, why do we need responsive design?

Not so long ago everyone used a desktop computer to access the World Wide Web; today’s technology has moved on so far that this is no longer the case. In fact the web is everywhere, take a look around you when you’re next out; millions of people using their smart phones, tablets, a watch and now glasses to connect with the web wherever they happen to be.

It is impossible to predict how we will access the Internet in the future. We cannot assume that everybody connects through the same device (by device we mean desktop, laptop or phone). But through responsive design, it is possible to guarantee that content is accessible without having to worry about the size of the device being used to access the web.

We also need to bear in mind that the capability of each device varies; no two desktop computers are the same with each having different software, so we must ensure a ubiquitous experience when we are designing and developing websites.

Responsive design is the term or process created to improve your web experience, to increase your customer satisfaction, to make your web presence remarkable and to keep you up to-to-date with the current trend. However it’s important to remember that responsive design isn’t the solution for everything, but it is indeed a way to be followed, tested and reshaped.

The constant mutability of the web brings problems for those architects who crave consistency, but it has a unique flavour for us web designers, developers and programmers. We have something that most professionals do not have – “Room for change and transformation”. We are responsible for creating the foundations for the future here and now.

The intention of this article is to bring knowledge, but also to generate questions and discussions about the future.

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