Responsive web design (RWD) is the design of a web page in a way that creates an uninterrupted user experience across different devices. If you access a website with responsive design, you should be able to view the web pages as easily on your phone as you could on your laptop.
Without responsive design, it can be difficult for your users to find your website on search engines, read content, or navigate your website.
This could be due to longer loading times, layout issues, low quality graphics, or even too-small text. If you’re on a desktop or laptop computer, try clicking and dragging the corner of this window to resize it. You’ll notice that rather than just making the content smaller, resizing the window causes the menu to change, the text to shift and resize, and the links on the right-hand side to move to the bottom of the page.
This is responsive design in action.
Do I Need Responsive Design?
In short, yes. Just over half (51.3%) of global internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, so it is increasingly important to make sure that these users can access your site. Plus, Adobe has found that almost 80% of users would stop engaging with web content if it didn’t display well on their device.
Unless you can be certain that your target audience will be viewing your site from a desktop, designing your website with mobile in mind is a must.
Responsive Design Examples
A quick and simple way to see how responsive design works is to right-click on a web page and select ‘inspect’. Once you’ve done this you will see a sidebar with the code of the website, and at the top of this next to ‘Elements’ click on the mobile device icon which says ‘toggle device toolbar’.
Then you’ll see a toolbar at the top of the page with a drop down list, this will allow you to see what the responsive web page looks like on Apple and Android mobile devices.
If you’re not currently able to facilitate a shift to responsive design, there are things you can do to make your site better optimised for mobile devices. For example, resizing (not just scaling) images to reduce loading times, and reducing the number of redirects within your site, can vastly improve the user experience.
Google’s ‘Test My Site’ tool can analyse your site and give easy-to-read recommendations on how to improve it for mobile devices. Remember, your website should be built with the needs of your clients in mind. Consider any changes carefully, and make sure that everything you do will ultimately improve the user experience.