Industry trends: Responsive design

Published: February 2012

“The internet will be mostly browsed using mobile devices by 2015”.

Believe it or not this prediction by the International Data Corporation is proving to be correct as 2011 Knowledge Network studies show “Tablet owners are spending most time online”.

But what does this mean for the design and creative sector, the millions of websites online and your business?

Don’t panic, the way the design industry works is adapting just as quickly as consumer’s browsing behaviour is.

Introducing the revolutionary way of building websites; responsive design.

Dyvels responsive website

Dyvels responsive website

Responsive: (adjective)

  1. Reacting quickly and positively.
  2. Responding readily and with interest or enthusiasm.

Responsive design is when a website automatically responds (obviously) to the device your customers are using to view it. It also cuts out the need for making various bespoke websites depending on the device, which saves your company money and your design agency a lot of time.

As you know, if your customer is browsing your site using their desktop or laptop they will see your full menu, large pictures, slideshow of products, videos, etc. Basically your full site as it was meant to be seen.

If your next web visitor is using their tablet, no worries. They will still see your menu, pictures, etc but maybe without the slideshow as the size of the tablet is smaller than your PC screen and you don’t want your site to look squashed and messy. When the website loads it automatically detects that the visitor is using a tablet, so optimises the layout of images and adjusts the website features according to window widths and device resolution. Magic!

Finally, yes your website will respond to Smartphones too. Any images or text on your website which are in a cross-screen layout will now form a single, orderly column structure as it is easier to scroll down than across using the majority of mobiles. Images will scale down so they don’t hog the screen or slow down the loading of the site, text will wrap in accordance with the window/resolution size and links will appear larger so even touch-screen users get the best experience.

Neon Legal responsive website

Neon Legal responsive website

Of course you will have the option to build a specialised site for a device if you know your customers use it more frequently; e.g. a local directory may have a custom-built mobile site for visitors to access information on the go, and a separate main website for PC users wanting to do more research. But that all depends on your web visitors and target market.

According to December 2010 Netcraft data, there are 266,848,493 websites online today.  Therefore the internet has a long way to go before all sites will be fully mobile-and-tablet-friendly but responsive design surely is a start.

Need to see it to believe it? Have a cheeky peek at our work and some of our favourites.

For responsive websites and remarkable design, contact Urban River 0191 456 6199.

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