RWD, or Responsive Website Design, simply refers to the ability of a website design to alter its layout depending on the type of device that is being used to view the web page. A responsive website design will often appear one way on a 23′ desktop monitor, and look entirely different on a smart phone.
The ability for a website design to be “responsive” relies on the users browser and/or the website’s hosting server to determine detailed information about what kind of device is actually requesting the web page. Most modern web browsers will include this detailed user information right inside each page request they send to the hosting server.
Once things like the type of device, screen size, and operating system, of the device requesting the page are known, the Website Designer can send different instructions for rendering a page according to this criteria. It is then the job of the website designer to create page layouts that will provide the best user experience possible no matter what kind of device is used to view the page.
The term Responsive Website Design just means that the design has the ability to adapt itself to different device types and sizes. The degree to which it does respond and change is another matter entirely. Some mobile responsive website designs will make just a few subtle changes from desktop to smart phone, while others will serve up an entirely different website design for each device. It is up to the designer to determine the most effective changes necessary to offer the best user experience for each device.
As Website Designers gain more experience developing sites that will work well on multiple devices, they realize there is more to Mobile Responsive Website Design than merely rearranging the page to fit a different size screen. It is becoming clear that to deliver the best possible experience for all types of devices may require more than simply changing the font size or re-organizing content.
A few years back, the website design industry went through a conversion from designs based on a grid like <table> structure, to the more modern html <div> containers. For awhile it seemed that we simply tried to recreate the familiar look of table based sites using the new div structures. Soon though, we began letting the nature of div container drive our designs. Now the look and fell of websites have changed to flow across the width of the page. Now when we spot the “data in a box” appearance of an old table based site, it may look sorted of dated by comparison.
I believe the same will happen with Mobile Responsive Design. As we designers internalize the possibilities of mobile responsive design, we will stop trying to replicate our existing designs for different size screens. I believe the look and feel of websites will change once more. Soon we will be able to spot “old” non-responsive designs, and we will consider them to look dated as well.
If you would like more information about a mobile responsive website design for your firm, please contact the Website Design Team at Social Cindy, (949) 813 3861.
Mobile Responsive Website Design