20 Dec 2016

Responsive Design – What & Why?

Responsive Design – What & Why?

What is Responsive Design?

If you’ve developed a web site in the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard of ‘Responsive Design’. The term represents a set of techniques that allow a single flexible web layout to serve many different screen sizes. Responsive design is an important component of future-proof web publishing as devices are coming in all kind of shapes and sizes now a days. Making the most of the Responsive Design Techniques requires understanding on the problems it solves, ones it can’t, and how it fits your project’s needs. In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes a website responsive and why we should make our sites responsive.

Web developers have been creating fixed width layouts for years that target specific screen sizes. When space challenged mobile browsers hit the market, they were forced to create custom mobile sites with minimal designs. When Responsive design came into the scene, it introduced a layout that stretches and contracted to fit any screen. To do so, it relies on percentages and ratios rather than fixed sizes and positions.

Fluid layouts that are flexible can’t cover every extreme always. A layout that looks great on a 27″ monitor might look busy on a 5″ smart phone. Web designers identify scenarios where the fluid design breaks, and use conditional CSS rules to implement special styling instructions for those breakpoints. For example, on a tall smartphone, sidebars might be moved to the bottom of the article to leave more spatial space for the text. On a wide desktop screen, another column of texts might be added to take advantage of the extra room and so on.

The most important principle with responsive design is simple. It aims at scenarios and capabilities, rather than specific hardware devices. Instead of detecting the make of the device and generating custom HTML and CSS, a responsive site uses one standard set of HTML. Conditional CSS and client-side scripts account for the special cases like low-resolution image displays, GPS capabilities, and so on. That ensures the design will respond intelligently to any device that matches the right criteria. That includes newly released ones as well as the older devices often ignored by the latest design trends. Although device detection, tailored markup, and other techniques can be used on top of implementing a responsive design, a strong responsive foundation is often considered to be a dependable starting point.

Why do you need responsive Design?

Responsive design is the most cost-effective way to ensure compatibility with the widest possible array of devices. It is also the easiest way to future-proof any contemporary website. There’s no denying about its effectiveness.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t apply it with other techniques. Such as, native mobile apps, device detection, feature detection to enable additional features, server-side detection of site markup, and so on. Responsive techniques allow you to build a solid foundation for your company’s web presence. One that will handle a wide range of scenarios as effortlessly as possible. Once that baseline is established, you can focus your resources preserved for customization where they deem fit, rather than rushing to make it compatible whenever a new device come into the market.