July 3, 2012#

Responsive Design

If you’ve not yet heard the term ‘responsive design’, the chances are you will do soon. It describes a reasonably new web design technique where websites are built so that they automatically respond or adjust to the size of the screen on which they’re being viewed.

 

The reasons for its development are obvious. For example, a web site that looks great on your 27” iMac might not look so good when you look at it with your iPad’s browser. Or, a web app that offers a fantastic user experience on a desktop computer, might not be half as usable on a phone.

 

Responsive designs cater for all of these screen sizes. They reflow and refit the site’s content, and sometimes they make fundamental changes to the site’s overall layout in an effort to maintain usability, readability and great looking design.

 

On paper, responsive design seems like a great idea and millions of web designers agree. However, a growing number of designers are also beginning to speak out against responsive design for a number of reasons… which means the jury’s still out when it comes to this technique’s future.

 

Here’s our quick guide to the key pros and cons of responsive design:

 

For:

the most often quoted reasons for incorporating responsive design techniques into a website are development costs and convenience. Imagine building separate versions of your website for desktop computers, iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Blackberries, and any other device that users might use to view it. Not very practical, is it?

 

Against:

on the other hand, some designers believe that responsive designs which change the fundamental layout of a website go against usability and user expectations. How many times have you visited a URL on your mobile expecting to see the same site you’d normally see on a desktop, only to discover something that looks much different? That’s one of the main arguments against responsive design and for some sites, it’s a dealbreaker.

 

While we’re not swayed one way or the other just yet, our view is that we’ll probably never commit to just one technique. In fact, we’ll always make sure we use the most suitable tools for the project we’re working on – whatever they are.

 

And that’s the real definition of responsive design.