A truly effective website, an absolutely essential element of any modern business with at-all serious expectations, is one which is tailored not only to the audience one is trying to capture, but to the individual user. There must be elements which address the individual, the prospective client, and hold his or her interest. There must be a wealth of easily accessible information spanning a variety of topics, all that a user would need to know to form a preliminary opinion of your business and its potential use to them. Finally, the site’s aesthetics must catch the eye. The viewing experience should be simple and direct while not maintaining a strong and unique sense of style, perhaps through the use of vibrant colors or creative graphics. However, maintaining a website’s aesthetic integrity has become significantly more difficult as of late due to the rise of platforms like phones and tablets as popular web browsers. When it is transposed to an alternate platform, a website designed for computer viewing may have its formatting distorted or become exceedingly difficult to use. However, there’s a way to avoid such an eventuality: the utilization of “responsive web design,” or Responsive Web Design.

Screen devices of different widths makes responsive design a must.

What Does Responsive Web Design Do?

Responsive Web Design basically ensures, or attempts to ensure, that the look of your website will adapt to the size and shape of any screen it appears upon. It’s a tool you've almost certainly seen utilized a great many times. For a quick example, just head to any Wikipedia page. According to their Google results the three most popular articles on the site are for Barack Obama, teen pop sensations One Direction and, of course, the classic animated TV series The Legend of Korra which is apparently a thing that exists. Any of these articles will do nicely for the purposes of demonstration. Simply minimize and maximize the window containing the article you've selected to see Responsive Web Design in action. Do you see how the text contracts to the confines of the size of the window, how it bends around that picture of Korra looking over the majestic, fog-shrouded visage of Republic City? You’ve just had a look at responsive web design in action. Now imagine you’re looking at the site on a phone or an iPod. As a page which has been created utilizing Responsive Web Design, a Wikipedia article will conform automatically to the size of the screen on which it is being shown, allowing the size of the text to be as readable as possible regardless of the situation.

The most popular alternative to utilizing responsive web design is to create a mobile version of one’s website. As secondary platforms became more popular, this variation was the first line of defense for many who feared and/or respected the transformative capabilities of the smartphone. Some wondered if such sites were necessary. Was any change at all, for that matter? After all this was the same old internet simply viewed through a different lens. Why not simply let it be? Mobile sites were supposed to be streamlined, to strip a web page down to its most popular and necessary functions for the ease of the potential consumer, but is there not always some inherent danger in the removal of anything the customer might need just because one assumes they will not? More troubling, if a feature is not important enough to merit a place in the mobile version of one’s page, should that feature be on their page at all or is it simply clutter regardless of the platform. The main issue with this argument is simply that a typical website left as is will be much smaller and therefore more difficult to access on a mobile platform. But that’s where responsive web design comes in.

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Responsive Web Design has two main objectives: to adapt a page to the size of any window without compromising functionality. This involves the shifting of elements into the most logical contortions possible. One downside of Responsive Web Design is that videos and ads will sometimes not be as adaptable as the rest of the site, but as we saw earlier this difficulty is minimized by the text’s ability to wrap around said objects. In other words, if a component of a page outfitted with Responsive Web Design will not properly conform to the conditions it is facing the rest of the page will adapt to its somewhat incongruous presence. Sometimes the positions of various items will need to be altered, and certain smaller features may even need to be removed in some cases, but the overall goal is to keep as much content present and easy to use as is possible.

What To Do From Here

There are a number of free Responsive Web Design tools available online, SimpleGrid, Adaptive Images and 320 and Up being three of many popular options. That being said, be sure to research the process carefully before diving in yourself or, better yet, consult a professional. Converting a non-Responsive Web Design site to one which implements the format is a time consuming, fairly complex process, one you should carefully consider before embarking upon it. Essentially, Responsive Web Design makes the process of viewing your site from a secondary platform simpler. There are no redirects to mobile specific pages for one thing. Also, once the process is complete it’s obviously easier to maintain and optimize one site than two. All of those different versions of your site made to correspond to different sizes of screen and different browsing devices can simply be forgone with the application of the Responsive Web Design format. Basically, if your site gets a good deal of mobile traffic or you simply want to play it safe, adopting Responsive Web Design is certainly something to consider if you can put in the time.