What is responsive design?

When I talk about website design and development, I always make sure to not the all of the sites I build are mobile responsive. Perhaps you’ve wondered exactly what that means. Well, as I’m sure you are aware, more and more people are accessing sites just as much from cell phones, tablets (and even tv’s), as they are from computers, so modern websites need to be able to adjust for those devices.

Enter responsive design. Simply put, a responsive design responds to it’s environment.

Day by day, the number of devices, platforms, and browsers that need to work with your site grows. Responsive web design represents a fundamental shift in how we’ll build websites for the decade to come. - Jeffrey Veen

Responsive design means that no matter what size your page is being viewed at, it will look great, be completely readable and look like it was designed to be that size.

On the other side of the coin, a site that isn’t mobile-responsive will look like a zoomed out version of itself – it’s not attractive and hard to navigate. And, for all of you thinking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s important to know that Google has started using mobile friendliness as a ranking metric – making those non mobile-responsive sites drop down on the lists.

Now you may be asking if mobile responsive is the same as a mobile site (the sites that start with m., for example m.marketinglaura.com)? Well a mobile site is a separate site built specifically for mobile phones. They usually include limited information targeted for a mobile user looking for contact or general information quickly. While a mobile site can be useful, its almost always not the best option. The reason being that your limiting the information your visitor is seeing and trying to predict what they’re looking for. It also creates more work by basically running too sites, increasing the chances of mistakes in your information. A mobile-responsive site better accomplishes the overall goal.

So, all things considered, for me, its a no-brainer to design sites that are mobile-responsive!