Responsive web design : Way to go future-proof
by Nimisha Paul
Things have changed since the day we all got familiar with the World Wide Web. Remember the times we waited long times for the dial-up connection to open up the page that we wanted? Seems like something from the distant past right? That’s how fast things move in the cyber world and look at us now. We shuffle from one site to the other with the click of a button or a flick of our finger. We had square desktop screens and then came the laptops with 16:9 screens followed by the netbooks, mobile phones, tablets and so on. Each of these devices has screens with completely different resolutions. So in these times, a website has to be optimized not just to look good, but also to function seamlessly on any screen or device it is made to run. This is where we meet responsive web design.
What is Responsive Web Design?
It is a modern way of designing websites in a self-adapting manner in order to adjust the appearance according to the size and resolution of the screen it is opened on. This assures a fluidic browsing appearance to the user who accesses your site. As the name suggests, the site “responds” to the size and resolution of the screen it is opened on.
For example, if a website is laid out in a horizontal fashion, it might look good in an oversized desktop monitor but it can be really hard to a mobile phone or tablet user to swipe horizontally. Especially if the site is graphics heavy, many mobile devices will not be able to process it swiftly. A responsive web design deals with these problems by providing the website the ability to adjust spacing and orientation according to the screen resolution.
The design involves intelligent use of spaces, resizing of the pictures involved and flexible scripting. Now, we all have mobile devices that can switch its orientation from portrait to landscape at our will. A responsive web design also responds to that change in a seamless fashion. We don’t expect a site to show us some cropped images or broken text. It’s even worse when we have to swipe horizontally on a mobile device.
The importance of a Responsive web design.
As responsive web design ensures a good-quality browsing experience, it will help in keeping a customer stick to your site. As the statistics show, 40% of people who experience a sluggish experience with a website are likely to move on within 3 seconds. So you are more likely to lose a significant chunk your customers who usually use a device if your website is not optimized for that specific device. Statistics show that the number of mobile phone users around the world will reach 4.77 billion by 2017. Most of them rely on their mobile phones to surf the net. This signifies the importance for a responsive web design in a clear manner. Mobile based web browsing is expected to outpace computer-based browsing in the next three to five years.
In the olden times, creating a separate website for each device was the norm. But now it is impractical and possibly idiotic to take that path. As there are a huge number of mobile and fixed devices which facilitate web access, each with different screen types, it is a lunatic idea to create websites for each and every screen there is. This is a time consuming and not to mention, highly expensive process. Responsive Web design takes away all these hassles by providing you a website that adapts to each and every device it is opened in.
Why is it so popular ?
The ever-increasing popularity of social media is also a huge factor that we should factor in when we talk about the usage of mobile optimized sites. Most people have shifted to their mobile devices to access these services. For example, 56.5% of all the Facebook users use their mobile devices to log in. Thus the advertisements that are made through social media are more likely to be opened on a mobile device than in a computer.
New age devices
Think about it, it is not just the mobiles and tablets that constitute the new age web browsing devices. Take the Apple Watch, for example, the Google Glass may be; these devices are peering into the future. And as we have already seen in our world, future is going to be here even before we think about it. So the web responsive design will require the capability to accommodate devices that are going to be an unavoidable part of our daily life. So if a website has separate versions for desktop and mobile, it is going to be really hard for it to follow the trends when they arrive.
Google also ranks a responsive website higher than a non-responsive design as they provide a user with a flawless browsing experience. Google also rates the websites that use separate URLs for computers and mobile lower. A responsive website will be ranked higher as it sports a single URL for all the devices. It is also to be noted that managing the SEO for two separate sites is a big hassle. This can be avoided by using a responsive web design. This will cut the amount of effort that you have to put into optimizing your site into a half.
These I believe, is more than enough to glorify the importance of responsive web design in the modern world. This has turned from a luxury to a requisite, a necessity that we cannot afford to overlook.
How do we design a responsive website ?
Even though the results are highly sweet, creating a responsive web design can be a bit tedious in the beginning. The company that creates the responsive web design should take into consideration a thousand things (give or take some) into consideration to pulling it off cleanly.
Start with a mobile site.
Most companies start off by building a mobile site because it is the simplest of them all. A mobile site will only have the bare necessities a user might require while browsing that site. Because of the limited hardware capabilities, it is pointless to fill a device down with unnecessarily complex graphics and features. This might slow the opening process down and that may make the user have a rethink when it comes to using your site again. So the best bet is to create the mobile site with fewer features and the bare skeleton of the responsive website. Extra features will be added on to the desktop version and it will use the mobile site as a base.
Responsive web design also makes use of fluid grids that has the ability to accommodate variations in screen resolutions. When we compare it with a design based on a fixed pixel value, it is found to be very advantageous. The grids on a responsive website will adjust for variations in resolution with respect to each other. This gives us a site that adapts well not only aesthetically, but also in terms of performance. This is easily recognizable when we resize a browser on our desktop. As we go on resizing the window, a responsive website will scale along with the window. A fixed design will stay put and parts of it will be covered as we bring the size of the window down.
As we speak of resizing windows, there exists a specific resolution below which the website will completely change its layout. It might transform into its tablet or even the mobile form. This is achieved using media queries. This enables us to dial in a specific width into the design at which the layout breaks. This is a CSS3 module that imparts adaptability to the responsive website design. In June 2012, it was recommended as a W3C standard. This is an important feature in web designing as it allows us to set parameters such as resolution, width, height and aspect ratio etc on which the website’s responsiveness will depend.
Consider the pointing device
A responsive web design must also take the kind of pointing/selecting device that is being used into consideration. In a computer, it can be a mouse but on a mobile/tablet, it will be a touch sensitive screen. Some of the items that are easily selected using a mouse pointer might not be big enough for a finger to select. This calls for some thought to be put on the links in the website. Optimizing these links is also a part of responsive web design.
Responsive web design is not just an adaptable feature that helps you fit your website into the existing mobile devices. It is also a design that foresees the future and prepares according to it. We push the boundaries of resolution outwards briskly and newer resolutions get added into the mix. Responsive web design preps your website to run seamlessly on all of them. It is a future-proof technique worth investing in.
Your website is the main window of your business to the world. So if you believe in future-proofing it, you can contact us. Dotz Web Technologies are here to help with our experienced staff and their trusted service.
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