Remember when you were in high school, and your best friend called you 12 times before you FINALLY answered? You might say you weren’t responsive, eh? Yeah, this isn’t the same…not even close! Ok, kidding aside, responsive design is a term used to describe a user’s ability to see your website in a “scaled” way that adapts seamlessly with their browser window.
There’s a common request from my clients to ensure their website looks similar on various devices including their iPhone, iPad, Android Tablet, MacBook, etc. New devices are coming out each year, and the quest to make all devices compatible is never-ending.
So What is Responsive Web Design, Exactly?
Responsive Web Design, as partially described above, involves a design which adapts and responds to a user’s browser environment based on factors including screen orientation, size and operating platform.
This type of design technique uses a complex array of flexible technologies to accurately display elements of a website, which allows users to interact normally regardless of their device. Keep in mind, however, that certain applications (mobile and/or desktop) can prevent certain websites from loading properly if the website isn’t configured properly. Building the website in a methodical way eliminates major headaches down the road, and ensures your website will be usable into the foreseeable future.
Flexible Design Concept
A major component within responsive web design is the ability to make text and images scaleable. As mentioned in another article (The Difference Between HTML and CSS), HTML5 and Cascading Style Sheets have revolutionized the web design industry. Text size can now be scaled using a unit of measurement referred to as “em,” versus the traditional unit of “px.” Another flexible unit of measurement is percentage, which can be used for margins, padding, image height/width, and other important elements. I won’t go into deep detail, but needless to say, these concepts provide web developers with the necessary tools to ensure clients’ websites scale with the future.
WordPress and It’s Role
WordPress is such a great product out of the box, in terms of responsive themes and plugins available. Theme designers are working hard to make existing themes responsive. Typically, updates are rolled out quarterly (or even more frequently) to keep software compatible with web standards.
So, we’ve talked about the term “responsive” and how it applies to websites you visit every day. Phones, tablets and other devices require web developers to ensure your website can be displayed in an easy-to-read format…regardless of screen size, orientation or operating system. When looking for a designer, check out their existing websites on your phone. If you see a consistent failure in the adaptability of their sites, they might not be providing a beneficial product to their clients…and you may want to avoid them. And hey, maybe they’d be responsive to your positive feedback! See what I did there?