Story by: Colophon Editor
February 11, 2014

With the vast array of devices used to surf the web, a website needs to respond to its surroundings.

Lizard changing colorsWith the explosion of mobile browsing that we have seen over the past ten years, the challenge has become even greater.

Web Designers have always been challenged by the multitude of screens that people use to view a website. In the early days of the Web this meant considering the varied resolutions that existed for desktop and laptop computers.

The real turning point for mobile web came with the introduction of high quality mobile devices, first from Blackberry, then with the transformative power of the iPhone in 2007, and later with the launch of Android phones in 2008.

iPhone and Android dominate the smartphone universe, with the Android platform recently surpassing Apple’s iOS, making up about 80% of all mobile devices shipped.

Surfing the Web has became fast and easy with newer mobile phones running faster wireless connections.

As more and more people accessed the web on the go, web designers found that their pixel perfect designs were not working so well on these mobile devices.

The first attempt to resolve problems came with the development of dedicated mobile websites. In this approach a business would have two websites: 1) a site for desktop users, 2) a site for mobile users. The technology works by detecting a mobile connection and then delivering the mobile site.

Mobile websites that are properly designed are a great solution, as they offer an interface specifically developed to be used on a small, mobile devices. Larger text, big buttons and interactions built for touch screens provide a good user experience.

However, for most small business that are looking for a simple, effective web development solution, maintaining a separate mobile website can be costly and time consuming.

A well-constructed mobile website will allow for content to be controlled from the same management system, however, complete continuity starts to break down as new features are added, designs are updated and technology evolves.

Enter “Responsive Web Design” (RWD). RWD is a design approach that is focused on providing an optimal user experience across a wide range of devices. The same website looks great on desktops, laptops and array of new tablets and smart phones.Responsive Web Design

Responsive sites adapt the layout of the site to the device on which is displays.

Web designers like those at Colophon take a “mobile first” approach, where the assumption is that a site will be viewed on a mobile device, and therefore should be designed to work optimally on mobile first.

Some complex interactions like long web forms, applications with lots of details and buttons, and unique interface design may still lend themselves well to a dedicated mobile website.

But, Responsive Web Design offers a flexible, scalable and easily maintained framework for most small business websites.

One website that works great on all devices is a benefit that can’t be understated. As we look at customer website Analytics on a week to week basis the trend line is clear. There is more mobile use. 56% of all people on Earth have a smartphone. In the United States the number is closer to 65%.

It is critical the business websites have a successful mobile presence, and RWD is the step in the right direction.

If you would like more information about RWD, please contact us.

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