What is Responsive Website Design?

The appearance of your website on a variety of screens can be a tricky issue to navigate. Designing your site for a desktop with a specific screen resolution can result in a site that doesn’t present itself well on screens of different sizes.

A few years back, which in web-years is ancient history, designing websites to load properly on a desktop computer was a relatively basic function of web design. Taking into account the (somewhat limited) variety of screen resolutions and web browsers, and coding the site to work with these small differences in screen size, a web designer could reasonably expect to have a site that displayed the same across the board. And then came the smartphone, with its built-in web browser, which changed the expectations of the public about what a web browser could and should do. Everyone wanted to be able to browse the web on their smartphones as easily as they were accustomed to doing on desktop computers.

Almost overnight, web designers found themselves dealing with a rapidly proliferating world of varied screen sizes and resolutions, and their reaction, at least initially, was to create two versions of a website – the regular, desktop version and the smartphone-friendly “mobile” version. The results were sometimes unsatisfactory on the user’s end, however, especially with regard to how the mobile version appeared in comparison to the desktop version. Users simply did not want to pinch and scroll in order to view a website on their smartphone.

Responsive Web Design:
Making Your Website Work on Any Screen

Close on the heels of the smartphone web browser revolution, touchscreen tablet computers and small notebook computers further stretched the limitations of designing for screen resolution. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, large, high-resolution displays have become more commonplace, as well. Trying to design for the varying scales of screen sizes is a never-ending task, and one in which web designers have rightfully thrown up their hands in surrender.

So how do you design a website that loads properly and legibly on smartphones, tablets, and computer screens that range from netbook size to large, high-resolution screens – without designing separate versions of the same website for each size? The solution is rather simple: responsive web design.

Responsive web design, or RWD, is not a singular piece of technology designed to “fix” the problem of varying screen sizes. RWD is a collection of ideas and techniques that results in a website that performs across all web browsers equally, regardless of screen size. It is responsive to the device in question, hence the moniker “responsive web design.”

responsive web design

A web designer who makes use of responsive web design writes the code on the site to read the screen size and resolution of the web browser of the downloading device. As a result, the website will adjust the page elements of the site into the most viewable format for that particular device. Very little if any pinching or scrolling will be needed to view the site in its entirety, particularly on a smartphone with a smaller screen. A user who accesses the website from both a desktop and a smartphone will find the site to be parallel in its presentation, regardless of the device in use. This is perhaps the single most important element of a website’s functionality, at least from the standpoint of user experience.

While a pleasant user experience is the ultimate goal, the benefits of responsive web design extend to the bottom line, as well. Use of RWD means that only one website needs to be managed, as opposed to managing different versions of the same content for varying web browsers. One site, designed responsively, has the ability to encompass all users and all browsers, something a specifically targeted app cannot do. This can provide a significant cost savings in the administration of a website, particularly with regard to the time spent in designing a site as well as the management of content.

Lieberman Technologies can design a website using responsive web design for your business, thereby assuring your customers can access your site’s content from anywhere and with any device. Call us to get the process started.