Why should I switch to a responsive web design or application?
We’ve been asked dozens of times by current and potential clients, why should I consider a responsive web design for my website or application instead of a completely separate mobile site?
The short answer is, responsive design isn’t the best solution for everyone.
Here are Otreva we don’t force responsive design onto clients. We recommend it for more projects given the (usual) reduction of development time as well as the device agnostic approach it takes. Responsive design allows user experience / interface designers to create a single codebase that can adjust itself to a variety of screen sizes. Typically, separate mobile sites are aimed at small smartphone screens only and don’t cater to in-between sizes that many new tablets have. When I design my responsive interfaces, I don’t focus on typical breakpoints, I focus on designing 100% fluid layouts from smartphones up to HDTVs. I want the site to look great regardless of common screen widths.
What is responsive web design (rwd)?
Put simply, it is a design approach that focuses on creating an optimal viewing experience (easy reading and navigation with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling) regardless of the device or screen size the end user is viewing from and all within a single codebase. By using a fluid, percentage based grid, the design can ‘respond’ to a resize of a screen and adapt its content. RWD normally has the server send the same HTML code to all devices and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device using media queries. Over the last year there have been some great improvements to the responsive theory including RESS (Responsive Design + Server Side Components). Here at Otreva, we focus on creating performance focused responsive designs which employ many RESS techniques like device detection to name one. (Check out Mobile-Detect for you PHP devs)
Who uses responsive web design?
Nearly every type of website is moving to responsive web development as their preferred frontend strategy.
Google has been a big proponent of responsive web design over the last year or so and it is even their #1 recommendation for building mobile friendly websites. Many of their sites are responsive with more and more becoming responsive everyday.
Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device.
Even the United States government is recommending responsive web design while building a 21st Century platform to better serve the American people. That isn’t surprising, just check out President Obama’s campaign website, HealthCare.gov, and even 15 state websites (Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland.gov, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, & Utah).
This current site you are reading is responsive. Just try shrinking your browser window width or rotate your smartphone or tablet to see it in action.
Should I use responsive development for my application?
As always, this should be determined on a case by case basis however there is an easy way for most users to determine if this approach makes sense for them. Do you want to manage 1 codebase without having to develop a second mobile website? The answer is typically yes and with the right responsive design and development team, you can create an amazing and still fast experience for mobile users.