Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a newer viewing experience for websites. With this method of design you are able to view the website on most forms of media types from large screens to mobile without horizontal scrolling or zooming in and out. This design technique surfaced in the design world by Ethan Marcotte who coined the term responsive web design in May 2010. In 2012 RWD was #2 in Top Web Design Trends by .Net Magazine.
Flexible & Smart
In 2012 Responsive Web Design became one of the most demanded design techniques for websites. The reason is simple, it’s Flexible. When viewing a website on three different size screens from 27” displays, tablet or smart phone, the website content will resize to fit. Images are not flexible and will grow or shrink with the content without the pesky horizontal scroll bar.
RWD is a smarter approach for web design because not only does the content and images flex in size but the content can also be more simplified for mobile users. For instance, on a laptop or desktop computer you want the visitor to see all the content and expanded 100% the width of the screen. However, on tablets or mobile devices you would rather the user see less content and everything inline vertically for easy browsing. This allows the user to quickly view your most important content on their device without having to zoom or move around on the screen trying to scan through the page.
Don’t get your heart set on a Responsive website just yet. Although the idea of flexible content and images sounds great there are some disadvantages.
Slow Loading – From the beginning of web designing for dialup speeds, webpage load time has always been a concern. With RWD it will take a little longer to load because your images are much larger and takes up more space to allow flexibility.
Internet “Exploder” – Compatibility with Internet Explorer has always been an issue when designing websites. RWD is no exception. This can be fixed by using a jquery plugin to support IE or make the switch like everyone else to Google Chrome or Firefox.
Budget – If you are looking for cheap website design, Responsive is way out of your budget. RWD requires extensive amount of time and experience. Hundreds of hours can go into browser and resolution testing for all display and device sizes.
Responsive Web Design is not for everyone or every type of website. If majority of your customers don’t get it nor understand the value of what they are viewing, then you may want to stick with the traditional website design approach. Keep in mind RWD is not a replacement for mobile viewing only an alternative approach to stand out from the norm. If you want the BIG WOW factor and option of flexibility no matter the device go for it!