The growth in the usage of smart devices, i.e. smartphones and tablets, to surf the internet has increased substantially over the past few years. Various groundbreaking market research firms predict that internet traffic through smart devices, especially smartphones, will overtake desktop traffic in the year 2015.
The requirement of how websites should display and function has changed. Several years back, websites were designed and developed with desktop computers in mind. These days, forefront web design and development companies build websites keeping desktop computers as well as mobile devices in mind. Internet users too are expecting that a website is mobile-ready for browsing, and if they do not find it mobile-ready, a negative impression is most likely created in their minds, which certainly is bad for a business. According to various studies, a large number of people have a better opinion of businesses that offer a good mobile experience.
There are different ways businesses can optimize a website for mobile devices like having a mobile website or a separate mobile app. There is also responsive web design, which by the way is becoming rapidly popular.
Let us understand the basics of responsive web design.
What is Responsive Web Design (RWD)?
Responsive web design in short is precisely what it sounds like. RWD allows the website to adjust to how and where it is being viewed. It goes far beyond the website’s layout and effects what is rendered on specific devices, such as a smartphone.
Responsive web design is an in vogue approach of web design and development that focuses on delivering optimal website viewing experience to the users. Website designers and developers achieve this by creating a website that can re-size, restructure and re-display navigational elements and layouts across multiple devices with different screen sizes and orientations.
How Did Responsive Web Design Turn Up?
An independent web designer, Ethan Marcotte was the one who first coined the term responsive web design in his May 2010 article “Responsive Web Design” in the magazine “A List Apart.” Marcotte explains that responsive web design is not a single concept; it is rather a culmination of several techniques to adapt desktop website for optimal mobile experience.
There is a vast difference between responsive websites and mobile websites. The look of a mobile website and responsive website is very different. Another major distinction is that mobile websites use a separate, their own domain or sub-domain. Often, a mobile website’s domain will be m.websitename.com. The responsive websites do not need a separate domain or sub-domain.
Building mobile websites is cheaper than building responsive ones; however, having a mobile website means owning two domains, which add up to the cost. Further, SEO on both websites — the desktop and the mobile one — also factors toward increased costs. Besides, a mobile website often does not rank well in search engines, and it also does not offer much of the functionality as a desktop website does.
Why is Responsive Web Design Popular?
The problem with mobile websites and mobile apps is that they do not keep up with the new devices with different sizes and formats that keep on emerging in the market. In order for them to keep up, they will require updates from time-to-time (so they can be compatible with the new devices), which in the end prove costly.
Further, mobile websites and mobile apps offer only pared information, whereas users today are expecting much more. According to various surveys, a large number of users think a business’s mobile website should be better than its desktop website.
The high expectations of users have led to mobile-first approaches to web design. This means that web design and development companies should build such websites that can serve both mobile users and desktop users, but predominantly mobile users though. Responsive web design is gaining popularity because it helps serve both mobile users and desktop users with a single website! Because it involves creating only a single website, the cost of developing and maintaining it is also low.
Responsive web design has become a trend for websites, which no doubt will continue in 2015 as well. Investing in a responsive web design is a sensible thing to do if businesses want to serve their users (customers) well and don’t want to go astray from their competition.