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What Exactly Does “Responsive” Mean?

What Exactly Does “Responsive” Mean?

mac desktop, laptop and tablet on a desk


One Of The Biggest Words In Web Design Is Also The Least Understood

It seems to be the catch-word most associated with web design these days, but what does a “responsive” website mean exactly? If you’ve recently looked into having a website built more than likely most of the companies you have shopped used responsive repeatedly as a big selling point. As a client you may have walked away saying “Well responsive web design must be important, but what does that mean and how does it affect my business?”

     In recent years doing business out from behind a desk and our computers and laptops is the standard. Business happens anytime, anywhere whether we are a consumer buying products or a business selling them. We are on the go and on the web at the same time through our phones, our tablets and our laptops on the metro and in coffee shops. So how do websites handle all of this traffic from so many devices with different screen sizes and resolutions and stay user-friendly at the same time?

       Back in the old days of technology and web design (maybe 2 or 3 years ago) web designers and developers had to set up different sites to be able to handle these different devices. This was known as mobile design and basically doubled the designers’ workload for one website. Not only did the design work double, so did all the maintenance and updating, one for PCs and laptops the other for phones and tablets.







At the time several companies that didn’t have the time or resources to devote to maintaining two sites for every one of their clients. They had to make the decision to either risk losing a few mobile customers and stick with creating one PC-friendly site or increasing overhead to keep up with websites for both. Thanks to the growth and improvements in technology, we now have a third option.

     Responsive basically means through the use of CSS and Javascript one single website can automatically adjust to just about any device and look and feel like it was specifically designed for it. The concept is actually based on experiments in responsive architecture. Architects experimented with walls and structures that would bend and flex depending on the size of the crowd approaching. Responsive web design is built upon the same theory. Websites are able to “flex” and “bend” depending on the device they are being viewed on.

      As you can imagine with way we do business these days, having a user-friendly website for your business in any environment is crucial to your online success. Not only does it make your current clients happy to have such availability, Google also considers responsive sites extremely important when ranking sites in their listings to help attract new clients. Now that you have some basic idea of what responsive means when shopping for a new website, or if you have an existing  site, its not a bad idea to confirm with the designers that it is responsive.



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