Responsive Web Design - Hope or Hype?
29 September, 2014 | Web design
As the use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets overtake desktops and Laptops as the primary mechanism used to access the internet, it’s clear that the one size fits all website does not work… But is responsive the answer?
The wire frames below represent a PC, tablet and smartphone and demonstrate how responsive sites work, the PC design has 10 elements whist the smartphone has only 5. Responsive design enables a website to adapt it’s layout to the device that’s viewing it. Flexible images, fluid grids, text and layouts automatically resize to fit the screen of the device.
The old adage ‘you can’t fit a quart into a pint pot’ has never been more true, websites that have been designed to work on a large screen PC could never provide the same great user experience when viewed by a tablet or smart phone. Think about your own experience, when you visit a website that isn’t optimised for a smartphone, you are forever pinching and squeezing to navigate around the site. This is just not a good user experience and more likely to put the user off than engage them, especially when engaging them is exactly what you are trying to do, not put them off and encourage them to go elsewhere.
With the ever increasing number of new devices and screen sizes coming to the market, this issue is only going to become more so. Resulting in more websites failing the user and their experience when viewed on these modern devices that are not optimised for variable screen sizes. The complexity of the issue is brought into clear focus when you consider a typical day in the life of the busy 21st Century human being and their use of the World Wide Web - Typically your day starts by looking at your smartphone, checking the news, weather, facebook, ebay even before you get out of bed. You read the paper on your tablet on the way to work, use you PC and perhaps a laptop during your working day, tablet and smartphone on the way home, tablet in front of the TV, smartphone before bed… The average modern human uses 4 or 5 different devices every day and many will view the same website on each of these devices… Challenging times for website owners and web designers.
So is Responsive web design hope or hype? It would be difficult to argue against the overwhelming weight of evidence in support of this new technology. With increasingly sophisticated tech savvy users, businesses that ignore these demanding users does so at their own peril.