We all have our favorite websites to visit, as well as those we often have to visit to fulfill our responsibilities. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for us to try and access the same websites on both a desktop workstation and a mobile device, but some websites work better than others while trying this. This is because of something called responsive web design, which we’ll review below for our weekly Tech Term.
What is Responsive Web Design, Anyway?
The purpose behind responsive web design is to ensure that a website remains functional, even when viewed at different sizes and using different devices. This is accomplished using specialized elements to display the content in the way that is best suited to the attributes of the device being used. Essentially, the website ‘responds’ to the device, so instead of squinting to see a website meant for a desktop crammed onto the screen of your smartphone, your visitors will see a website meant for the smartphone.
This is achieved through three basic web design processes: fluid grids, responsive media, and media queries.
Like any design grid you may come across, fluid grids allow you to arrange your site elements to make them look as good as possible. However, fluid grids differ in that they adjust based on the size of the screen by using relative measurements, like percentages, rather than using pixels.
Just like the rest of the page, the media files you include (like video or images) need to be able to adjust in size as your screen size changes. This usually requires fixed dimensions to be entered, but because fluid grids don’t use fixed measurements, these kinds of files must use the max-width property set to 100%.
Media queries are effectively the web design version of crowdsourcing. By gathering data, a website is able to determine the size of the screen it is displayed on so it can adjust its appearance accordingly by loading the proper CSS (or Cascading Style Sheet).
Why Responsive Web Design is Important
A business will want to have a responsive website for a variety of reasons that all originate from a focus on visitor experience. Not only will a responsive website attract and retain more visitors due to its improved experience for its users, but will improve its search engine optimization ranking as well. These fast-loading, mobile-friendly websites also allow businesses to nurture a greater percentage of their visitors into customers, buyers, and clients.
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