Responsive development and design is the here-and-now when it comes to applications. It’s the essential user experience fad that has absolutely no intentions of fading gracefully into the technological past. And with 3.5 billion — yep, that’s with a b — mobile internet users as of August 2017, there is less and less desktop surfing happening across the globe.
That’s not to say the desktop monitor is going to way of the dodo. It’s not. Well, at least not yet. However, it has definitely given up some ground to tablets and mobile phones. And, as with everything else in the programming realm, there are multiple avenues to accomplish a fully functional responsive application. And in today’s on-the-move world, a responsive website is an absolute necessity.
What is Responsive Web Design & Development?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one fitting definition for the word “responsive” is as follows: Quick to respond or react appropriately or sympathetically.
There couldn’t be a more accurate description. The approach of building a responsive website application ensures that, regardless of device, screen size, platform or orientation, the end product will respond accordingly, behaving in a way that creates a comfortable and pleasing user experience.
For example, consider opening this post on a desktop monitor. You’d have the header area with the Connections Marketing logo, a few social media icons, and a navigation with dropdowns when you hover over them. To the right of this cleverly crafted prose you see the sidebar with a block of social sharing icons, a list of topics, and an About The Author box with a stunningly handsome picture of yours truly. Finally, at the bottom of the page lives the footer. Now, if you were to view this exact same post on your tablet or mobile, and the layout was exactly the same, you’d most likely go blind from trying to read the small text, or, more likely than not, drive yourself into madness by pinch-zooming in and out to make this all legible.
In steps responsive development. Through magic and wizardry (or top-notch prepared code), this post reacts to the user and their device. Header navigations and social media elements disappear, leaving in their wake the infamous hamburger icon and off-canvas, sliding mobile menu. Font sizes become smaller and less obtrusive. The sidebar relocates itself to below the blog post content. And footer elements begin to stack. Turning a mobile phone from portrait to landscape may increase font sizes and allow certain elements to reappear, since there is more “real estate” within your browser’s width.
In short, responsive websites morph into the device they are viewed on. There are not separate desktop and mobile versions of a website. It is just one entity that reacts appropriately to the user.
How did Responsive Development come about?
It’s a question with probably a thousand different answers. In the grand scheme of things, however, it comes down to two things: user experience and money.
Everyone wants a website to function properly and be pleasing to the eye. Colors and fonts and overall layout are important when representing your brand. Things need to pop and draw focus, but not be too overwhelming where it looks like a unicorn threw up on the screen. It’s a fine line our lead Creative Specialist walks masterfully with each and every project. Having a desktop version of your website load into your iPhone is not ideal, and most likely will cause the end user to hit the back button and move on to the next search result, which loses your business potential revenue.
And speaking of costs, prior to responsive development and post-launch of the iPhone, businesses would pay exorbitant amounts of money to build separate sites for various devices, which had implications regarding maintenance costs and SEO rankings (seeing as you would need to promote and support separate sites with duplicate content). A responsive website, with its capability to resize and re-proportion itself to any given screen, removes those undesirable costs.
Responsive development is here to stay with the use of mobile, tablets, and phones on the rise. There is no getting away from that. How it evolves is yet to be determined, though. At present, the options responsive programming allow a developer are extremely broad. In Part 2, I’ll delve into the evolution of website construction and how responsive development was born, as well as some of the key components responsive builds utilize.