So what’s all this about responsive websites?

July 7, 2014

Unsurprisingly, responsive design is exactly what it sounds like: a branch of web design that recognises and responds to the specifications (such as size) of the computer, tablet or smart phone on which it is being viewed so that it’s always seen at an optimal state.

The need for responsive design has been there for a long time, as consumers interact with web sites through different browsers and screen sizes. However, recently this need has snowballed as the number of web-enabled devices, such as smart phones and tablets has multiplied. This means the approach we take towards design has to evolve. No longer can designers make assumptions on how their site will be viewed.

In a nutshell, a website that employs responsive design finds out what device is being used to view the site and changes elements of the design. This can mean making the text bigger for smart phones so it is easier to read, changing the style of the buttons to make it more intuitive for a touch-screen user, changing the resolution of images to keep access snappy and even showing different content; basically responsive design is only limited to the skills of your designer and the needs of your business.

One of the key principles here is designing sites that are divided into ‘sections’ that reorganise depending on the browser’s width. While technically this isn’t too difficult, creatively it requires a designer who has put a lot of thought into how the elements of a design should stretch or shrink. Your designer must have answers to these questions: How does the layout react? How do we restructure our content? And what images should crop and what images should be resized? When you consider the hundreds of different browsers, screen resolutions and device sizes in the market, these questions become impossible to answer without a thorough understanding of web design.

For both clients and designers there are huge benefits to responsive design, but the most importantly is that it allows businesses to have one ‘all-powerful’ website that works on any device. For clients this means they don’t need to spend big money creating a traditional site and a mobile site (which probably will only look great on either an Apple product or a Android system but not both). It also takes the guesswork out of future-proofing their website – no one knows for sure what new technologies will be around in two or three years, but the point of responsive design is that it will easily assimilate into new media.

For designers and developers, on the other hand, it means we can spend our time getting the original design perfect, developing a site that fulfills the needs of our clients. It also means we can offer our clients a cost-effective and highly flexible solution for their communication needs, which is what we’re all about at Bonsai Media. So if you’re looking to increase the range of your web offering, contact us here at Bonsai Media; we’d love to help you out.