Before the age of smart phones, people surfed the web via their computers, using laptops and desktops. Remember the iconic Nokia 3310? There was no way we were going to check out the latest sports scores or do a quick Google search to find out what movie “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” came from…
I bet your Googling that right now 😉
In any case, when technology sped up and started offering us cell phones that were GPRS/3G enabled we started using them to surf the internet more and more. This changed the way web designers were developing their websites, all of a sudden they had to take into account the mobile user and their needs. Traditional websites just did not cut it on a mobile device, and the “mobi website” was born.
A web designer had to create, not only one website for computers, but also develop for mobile devices, and the many different screen sizes that came with it. Tedious to say the least, by doubling the work needing to be done. One common trend in mobi sites is that the experience differs from the experience one would receive from viewing the same website on a computer for instance. Granted the experience is simplified to focus on what a user on a mobile device would really need, like the essentials.
But why do we need to sacrifice the experience across different devices? Surely we can offer the same experience one would get from viewing a website on different devices with different screen sizes?
This is where responsive web design kicked down the door and made his (or her) entrance! Making it more possible to offer the same experience to all user; this really is where responsive web design shines.
So, what is a responsive website?
Simply put; it is a website that dynamically adjusts its dimensions according to the size of screen it is being viewed on (viewports). Instead of using set pixel widths it will use percentages applied to different elements. Through Media Queries the website recognises that the size of the viewport has changed, and it needs to adjust accordingly.
Web developers no longer have to slave away at creating various versions of a website to satisfy the different users we have visiting a website anymore. Now it is possible through clever code and responsive design to create one experience throughout different devices.
The web is an ever changing beauty, and we all have to adapt to its seasons. Responsive web design has shaken up the way we design, plan, execute and style websites. I for one am quite happy about it all.
I shall leave you with a Info-graphic that explains Responsive Web Design quite nicely:
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