Responsive Web Design–the Global Translator
When only a few computers linked between universities constituted the Internet, the experience was very different from today. Sites are full of colorful and interactive material and users range from the computer elite all the way to the tentative point-and-click fledgling just learning to navigate. The technology has also changed, now spreading out over a wide variety of programming platforms, computers and mobile devices. Designing a website that will be interesting yet simple to navigate, and work on all devices, no matter what their programming language or screen size, seems to be an impossible quest. The process is called “Responsive Web Design” and it is a must in today’s web-heavy world.
Early on, designing a website meant using the most common technology and software available as a base assumption so that it would work for the largest possible percentage of the population. Debugging and troubleshooting after the crash became the standard method of hammering out a design that would work on other devices or browsers. Those with less-used browsers and devices were usually left with patches and mostly-functional sites even after the repairs. Videos wouldn’t play, the screen would only display a portion of the text and links might not work at all. When mobile devices began opening websites on screens that could fit in the palm of the hand, the tiny text was impossible to read and what was already complicated quickly became chaos.
The only way to know exactly what would display best on any given device is to ask the device–Responsive Web Design is based on this initial sampling that tells the website which version to load. By only presenting the user with the best possible visual interface, frustration is eliminated and the website excels. The image fits the screen, loads properly and works as intended every time. Content is designed on a fluid grid and images are placed and sized based on their relative position and the percentage of the screen they consume rather than being measured in fixed pixels, thus automatically sizing for any device.
“Mobile first” is the approach most skilled designers use today. Designing for the big screen and then trying to use “graceful degradation” to make it fit a mobile screen always resulted in lost content. By starting with a clean, simple design that would work on a smart-phone and then adding to it for the personal computer experience, nothing is lost. Given how hard it can be to click even the simplest link with a finger on a touch screen in the noontime glare, a mobile-friendly site is an everyone-friendly site.
With so much of the global experience, in commerce, education and even socialization, taking place on the Internet, web design has become the job of an artist and technician as well as a translator that speaks every tech language from basic programming through the platforms needed for mobile apps. Every day there is a new technological device and a new user, with or without computer skills, ready to buy it. Without Responsive Web Design, there would be no way for all of those people and devices to communicate effectively.
The Author: Timothy Somdah is an avid coffee drinker and accomplished blogger. He enjoys attending industry events, learning & writing, and spending time with his dog. Visit the following resource for more info: responsive design You can find more information on the author’s site.