Web design and development today can be more difficult than ever before. The vast number of browsers, phones, tablets, operating systems and web ready devices is mind boggling. How do you develop web sites that work and look good across the board? Is it possible?
Yes it is possible. It is a relatively new technique and it is called Responsive Web Design.
There are multiple browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and others. There are multiple tablets like the Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, Apple iPad and others. There are multiple phones like the Motorola RAZR, BlackBerry, Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and others. Every device has a different size screen. Not to mention different desktops and laptops and all the various screen sizes and resolutions. How does your web site look on all of these devices, browsers and operating systems? Now you can find out. Check out this cool web site where you can see what your web site looks like across the board.
Responsive web design is the art of building web sites that render in a flexible shape so that they are usable and readable for users regardless of screen size and device. Responsive web sites bend but don’t break. Remember the Super Hero Stretch Armstrong? Picture a web site that is built like Stretch. Responsive layout is a completely different approach to template and coding web pages than just a few years ago. Unfortunately, if your web site is more than 2 years old it is probably not responsive. For the last 5-8 years most web developers have been building web sites with the set width approach. You pick a set width like 1000 pixels and you are off and running. Responsive layouts are the opposite of that approach.
The big question – Do you have to go out and build a new web site if your site is not responsive? No, not really. It depends on your business, your users, your goals and marketing. There are lots of options. You could launch a simple 3-5 page mobile site designed for your mobile and tablet users and leave your normal web site as is. Building a slimmed down version of your web site in a 3 page mobile version is not very expensive or time consuming. The most important thing is that if you are in the process of building a new site or thinking of building a new site it absolutely needs to be a responsive design and layout. Ask your web developer if they are building a responsive design and when you get a beta link to preview your new web site use tools like Screenfly to preview your new web site in multiple views.