What is responsive website design?

Responsive website design is often talked about as an ideal that every website creator and company should be aiming for. We’re told it’s vitally important when it comes to ensuring a website is user friendly, features highly in search engine results and crucially turns visitors into customers.

However, there is still some confusion about precisely what it is and how it’s used to ensure that visitors can access your website and enjoy a user-friendly experience throughout.

What exactly is responsive website design, why is it so important and how do you get started with it?

What is responsive website design?

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web development that creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website depending on both the screen size and the orientation of the device that’s being used to view it. It’s evolved as a response to the proliferation of devices that are now available to customers, ranging from large desktop monitors to small mobile devices.

It uses so-called ‘breakpoints’ that determine how the overall layout of a site will appear. One design will be used above the breakpoint and another design will be applied below that breakpoint. These breakpoints will be commonly based on the overall width of the browser.

The same HTML is served to every device, using CSS to alter the appearance of the page. In effect this means that a single codebase will be able to support users whether they’re viewing the site on laptops, desktop monitors, phones of all sizes and tablets. There’s no need to create a separate website with a corresponding codebase for different devices.

By using responsive design, page elements can reshuffle as the viewport changes in size. For instance, this might mean that a three-column desktop design could be reshuffled to two columns for a table, or a single tablet for a smartphone. It relies on proportion-based grids to facilitate design and content rearrangement.

What are the advantages of responsive website design?

RWD means that the development process is considerably quicker than it would be if separate sites were to be created for different devices. A single codebase speeds up the process, compared to developing 3 or 4 distinct sites, making maintenance easier over time as only one set of code and content has to be updated and maintained rather than a number.

It can also be adjusted relatively easily, with new breakpoints inserted to respond to evolving technologies. RWD goes some way to ensuring that your website is future-proofed.

How important is it to create a responsive website in 2021?

The importance of RWD in 2021 cannot be overstated. Increasingly, people are accessing the internet on mobile devices. These vary widely in screen size, and the key to an effective website is to ensure that it can adapt to whatever device it’s being viewed upon.

Ensuring your website is user friendly is key to any SEO strategy. It’s no good having visually engaging design and excellent content if your website is difficult to view on a user’s chosen device.

It can also make your website easier to maintain, reducing the time and expenditure required to ensure that your website is always accessible. Optimal accessibility is also key to ensuring that you maximise the potential of your website.

How to get started with Responsive Website Design?

If you’re considering Responsive Website Design there are a number of key factors to bear in mind. The first, and perhaps most important, is the overall user experience. Responsive design needs to be about more than merely converting a desktop site onto a mobile screen. You need to also think about how they will interact with your website and the essential content they’ll be trying to access.

Don’t design for the latest mobile device, but instead design your site around your content. How will elements work on a desktop and how will those same elements work on a mobile device?

The hierarchy of the layout is also important, particularly on a mobile. Streamlining your website content can be helpful, bearing in mind that the mobile experience tends to be more focused and limited compared to a desktop.

Responsive Website Design can seem like a complicated area of website design and management to understand. At Dawn Creative, we understand what makes an effective website and incorporate the latest techniques into ensuring that every website we create is accessible and responsive.

Call 0161 711 0910 or email wakeup@dawncreative.co.uk to find out more about our website design services.