Responsive Design Websites – why and how

It’s the buzzword in website design and here in our West Lothian headquarters we are on top of it!

• But what is responsive design?
• Do you need it for your company?

What is Responsive Design?

One of the first published documents on responsive design was the seminal 2010 article from the highly respected designer, Ethan Marcotte.

He recognised the ascendance of different sized media devices and the fact that web designers needed to incorporate the utility of their designs on these mediums with information ‘responsive’ to the media the site is being viewed on. It should present information in a way that is best for the device (and device users), rather than a one-size fits all.

Users are on the move

The percentage of people using smartphones and tablets to browse the internet has grown 100% year on year since 2010 and shows no sign of slowing down. On average, our clients report approximately 10% of traffic as coming from mobile devices with a clear pattern of behaviour.

During the day PCs dominate, but come 6pm tablets and smartphones take over and during the usual lunch hour of 1pm – 2pm smartphone browsing peaks. Add to this Kindle software and smart TVs and you have a range of different sized devices on which your website must display well and more importantly is easy to use.

It also means that having a single body of code to handle all platforms that rolling out updates and new features is easier.

Is responsive design a no-brainer?

Maybe responsive web design is merely the web design of today and doesn’t actually need its own label. Certainly our newer websites on WordPress have all been created with a degree of responsiveness, depending on the client’s target audience and objectives.

It is also worth noting that smartphone and tablet manufacturers have done a great job in developing browsers that are able to scale ‘big’ websites onto smaller screens and a well coded site will render nicely on the majority of smartphones today regardless of its responsiveness.

Also, many users do not like being offered a website that looks different from the one they are used to; even on smartphones and tablets. We all like the feeling of familiarity. So responsive design needs careful handing – not only on the technological side but from a design perspec
Wordpress websites

Now, at this point there is a little confession to make. Our own site, being slightly older, is not “responsive” as of yet. But fear not it will be when we do the revamp and re-launch in a few months time!

As designers as well as web developers, we focus on responsive design slightly differently to older website design.

Living in the age of the mobile

It pays to start with the smallest screen and strip your brand and design right down to its essence and then build from upwards from there. Starting from one narrow, long column approach ensures a great mobile site, and prioritises what really matters to your visitors.

Liquid layouts takes care of the device size – building up your branding and design from the one column to tablet size and then PC and Smart TV using a liquid layout is great for creativity and adding engagement factors.

The point in both of the above is scalability, so make sure images scale up and down on the different devices and use @media to help with the layout on the different screens.

Planning & Understand your Audience

It goes without saying that responsive design is not for everyone and the level of responsiveness can be unique to your brand. Some users actually prefer to navigate around on a mobile with the full version of your site using the zoom control while other clients have wanted one specific action to be completed online and as long as this worked the rest of the branding and site features could be displayed on a “if there’s room basis”.

We offer a free consultation, please contact us and let us know what you want and who you are building it for – we’ll give you all the branding, graphics and technical advice necessary to make it happen