One of the new buzz-words that you may keep hearing when discussing web design is "responsive design." You probably nod and agree, meanwhile you're wondering what on earth it means.
In the simplest terms, responsive design is a technique used to make sure that a website displays well on any device, and is easy to navigate and use.
Remember when smartphones were brand new, and when you went to a website, you had to zoom in and look at small sections of the page at a time?
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Responsive design is the solution to this problem, and is now expected from the vast majority of users.
Over 50% of internet traffic is now on mobile devices, and as you know there are hundreds of different kinds of devices.
When you include computers, internet TV, tablets, laptops, phones, and Blackberries, there are literally thousands of different screen types, layouts, and dimensions between the devices.
Many tablets and phones are also designed to seamlessly switch between portrait and landscape orientation.
It's hard enough getting one website designed. Having to try and redesign or adapt your website to appear on so many different screens would not only be prohibitively expensive, it would also be impossible to do.
In a nutshell, responsive design is designing a website with a certain amount of flexibility built into the design, so that it can switch between layouts depending on the type of device it is being shown on.
You can see some great side-by-side images of how the same site appears on various devices here .
The idea is that instead of having immovable objects on the web page, there are blocks of information or images that can be identified, prioritized, and moved around.
This ensures that menus are accessible, photos aren't lost or cut off, and text can be resized for comfortable reading, all while maintaining a streamlined and clean appearance.
Read More: Match Pace With Mobility, Use CSS To Create Responsive Images
Is it Really Necessary?
Yes. This isn't a complicated issue, and there really aren't any exceptions. Users are adapting to a world in which content, websites, and apps are all designed to work flawlessly on their devices. If yours doesn't, they will just move on and find a site that does.
Google has now begun eliminating non-responsive sites from searches that are launched on mobile devices.
As we said before, over 50% of all internet traffic is now on mobile devices - you don't want to miss out on half of all relevant searches due to not having an adaptable website.
Now you can easily check if your site is mobile friendly by using Mobile-Friendly Test tool from Google.
So How do I do This?
If you've hired a web developer to help build your site, ask them to make sure that they use responsive design. If they try to talk you out of it, hire someone else.
Developers understand the importance of responsive design, and if they tell you not to worry about it, they probably aren't that great at what they do.
This is one area where paying for quality is definitely worth every penny. It might cost a bit more to design, but it's certainly cheaper than 2 different designs. Or 3. Or even 4. You get the idea.
If you came looking for information because your developer told you that you need responsive design, they're right.
Read More: Web Development Trends to Follow in 2016
What if I do My Own Web Design?
As with everything else today, there is a strong DIY (Do It Yourself) presence in web design.
Whether you're doing your own web design to save money, or just because you're interested and have the time, you can absolutely find information and tools to help you produce a quality site that will look good on any device.
Companies like Webflow and Bootstrap have helped to make this process easy for anyone with basic coding and design experience, and are fairly affordable.
There is a great list of other easy to use responsive design programs at DesignInstruct , along with tutorials on how to use them. There are also a variety of open-source free templates you can find online, but they may be a bit more difficult to work with.
Regardless of whether you pay someone to do it or design it yourself, you can't argue the fact that if your site isn't responsive, you're going to lose out on traffic to your site.
Today's consumers just don't have the patience to try and navigate a site that isn't straightforward and easy to use.
Read More: Top 5 Tips for Designing a Mobile Friendly Website
With the amount of traffic coming through mobile devices, you're missing out on more than half of your potential customers.
If your site isn't user friendly, you're going to lose customers to competitors that have taken the initiative to meet their needs. No matter how you decide to make it happen, you shouldn't waste any more time.