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Responsive websites – what are they and why do I need one?

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January 12, 2015 4:33 pm

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Our line of work is full of acronyms, buzz words and jargon which sometimes makes you sound like a genius, but most of the time, it’s confusing for everyone else. One description I find that isn’t very well known amongst non-industry types is ‘responsive’ websites.

Essentially, a responsive website is one that is built in such a way that its layout will change bit by bit for any screen size. It’s different to an ‘adaptive’ website, which adapts it’s content to a lesser set of screens sizes – it’s explained visually here

responsive website design Image source: Divine Digital

You can see in our example above, that on a laptop screen there is a space in-between the menu and copy allowing for the striking image underneath to be seen. Move down to the iPad in portrait view, and you’ll see that gap has minimised to accommodate the same menu and copy ensuring easy navigation and readability. On the mobile, the menu is consolidated in the top right hand corner out of the way so that the copy can be read well, which is the most important thing for users on that page. This is a very basic example, but it shows consistency of quality across all devices, ensuring everyone has the same premium experience.

Responsive websites are the norm with large organisations and more and more popular with small businesses who recognize their traffic will increasingly come from mobile and tablet users. In fact, a recent Australian study found that the most popular consumer activity carried out on a smart phone is using search engines, and the fourth highest ranking activity was looking up product information. In that same study, it showed that the majority of people surveyed use multiple devices online, meaning that your potential customers might look at your website on a desktop, and then go to find your services again on their mobile.

responsive website device usage Image source: Divine Digital

Responsive websites also provide some future proofing in the sense that, if another tablet or mobile device comes onto the market, your website will adapt to that new screen size automatically.

Responsive web development requires a good user interface design approach, excellent coding knowledge, great graphic design execution and experience developing responsive websites for a number of business types. Like everything, you can do it badly, or you can do it right.

If you’re on a desktop or laptop now and want to check out our responsive website for yourself, minimize your window, move your cursor to the bottom right hand corner so you get a double headed arrow – click and slide your cursor inwards and see the content adapt to your window size as you go.

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