You may have heard your web designer or colleagues discussing responsive website design. But what does it mean?
If you already have a website and you’re a user of the internet (pretty sure you must be if you’re reading this…!) then you know that you can access websites from a variety of devices such as a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Each of these devices has a different screen size and set of dimensions. Back in the day, before responsive website design was even a thing and when accessing the internet on mobile phones was new, websites looked rubbish on anything other than a computer monitor. On a mobile (such as a BlackBerry – remember those??) the website pages would look tiny and be extremely hard to read, let alone to use their functionality.
Hence, responsive website design was born.
Websites started to be designed outwardly from desktop to mobile. A different design was created for the various device screen sizes. Code was introduced to let the website know when it was being viewed on a different device and for it to adjust its’ layout accordingly. Sections would adjust their size and dimensions, photos would fit the width of the screen and you would have no trouble reading the text. No longer would you need to hold the phone 3 inches from your face whilst scrolling left and right just to read your favourite blog!
Since then, responsive website design has grown and nowadays a good UX (User Experience) website designer will design a website “mobile first”. That is, designing a website outwardly from mobile to desktop. Today, the majority of internet users are accessing the internet from their phones and it is important to design for those users primarily.
Responsive website design is therefore the method of designing and developing a website based on how it should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.
Designing a responsive website can be a challenging endeavour. UX Design is more important than ever and understanding user behaviour is critical to ensuring a website is designed to deliver on its’ requirements. The user workflow for a mobile website will be very different to a desktop website. Images, buttons, calls to action (CTA’s), forms, logos and other content must all be displayed in a way that drives engagement for the user. It is therefore imperative that UX Design and responsive website design go hand in hand.
Planning for a new website or to redesign an existing website is not as straightforward as it may have once been. There are more moving parts to consider. Photos for an ecommerce website must be taken with placement and display options having already been thought through. Content delivery and structure must also be considered.
Make sure your website designer is versed in responsive website design and understands your requirements from a User Experience perspective. Ensure “mobile first” is a critical requirement of your next project!