Responsive design means that a web page can be seamlessly displayed, on a variety of devices, from large screen monitors, to laptops, tablets and the phones.
There are so many devices today. More and more of them can access the internet and hence, a web page. A while ago, we only had computers, that could be used to surf the web and there was no mention of such a concept of responsive design. But now, we have smartphones, we have tablets, smart TVs, fridges and all kinds of gadgets that can load a web page. This means there are countless combinations of screen sizes (width x height). Add to that, the possibility of different orientations (landscape / portrait).
The need for responsive design came when the iPhone was introduced in 2007 and the other Android phones followed, creating a new market, but also a new medium. The new large screen smartphones, that could get you online were used by many people, but loading a web site on the 320×480 screen size meant you could not read a thing. Users had to zoom in, tap, zoom out. The user experience was terrible, so the need for a mobile version of a website emerged.
Websites started creating mobile versions, sometimes redirecting users to a completely different set of files, when accessing from a mobile. But that was only temporary, as that was only the beginning. Because more and more screen sizes appeared, as well as the tablets, them in several sizes as well. Each year, new sizes were introduced. So having a desktop version and a mobile version was not enough anymore.
So the need for responsive design could not be ignored, with the introduction of the iPad, in 2010. This means, from a users point of view, that a website would look great, you could read all the text, tap all the buttons and use the site easily, on any screen size. Of course, on larger screens there is room for more information at once, while on the smallest phones, there is only a fraction, so the user interface should adapt also, not only resize or create more rows instead of columns. Functionalities might disappear or be moved on mobile, while the core experience should be preserved. From a developers point of view, this means using media queries, flexible grids and images, using percents for sizes instead of absolute values.
If thinking about the needs of users, is not motivating enough for developers to make the extra effort and the companies to fund a responsive website, Google gave everyone another reason in 2015. They announced that Google Search will favor mobile-friendly sites and who doesn’t want to rank high in Google Search? They also explained the reasons and benefits.
The mobile market is growing rapidly, the devices are getting more varied and complex. The website that you plan on building has to be fully responsive. It is not a luxury anymore, but a necessity, so plan for the variety of devices that it has to work and be tested on, as we sure do. Check out some of our examples or send us a message if you have any question.