Not that long ago you had to have a mobile version of your website. Chuck it. Yes, it’s outdated. Most responsible web development companies are deploying responsive designs.
A responsive web design is one that adapts to each form of media. In non-geek chat that means your website is easily readable and accessible regardless of what kind of computer you’re viewing it on: desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Think of the layout of your website being fluid. The entire architecture will be adaptable to any kind of screen size.
There’s more than a fluid layout behind the magic of a responsive design. The imagery employed within your design and content also plays a significant role in the user experience. Sophisticated sites will use dynamic imagery to further enhance the site. This will primarily fall into two types of dynamically generated images: created at upload or created on the fly. Both techniques have merit. (To avoid a long debate here, that’s really off our topic – discuss with your web development professional which scenario best suits you.)
Lastly the media query – what size screen is currently viewing your website? And which stylesheet should be engaged? This brings up another term: scalability. If you’ve been around computers long enough, you’ll have heard server techs complain about hardware being scalable and programmers complaining about the same with applications. The scalable stylesheet is a similar concept.
Within your stylesheet you can program tests for variable size media (screens). This approach affords the web designer greater flexibility while constructing your site. An unfortunate downside to this is stylesheet bloat. Bloat translates into a larger file for a mobile device to download, making your site slow to load. A secondary, better tactic is to use several stylesheets. Then the media size dictates which stylesheet is employed.
Now let’s focus on the dollars. A responsive web design – professionally constructed – is going to cost more. Probably twice as much as a standard desktop design. Wait! Keep reading! With that doubling of cost you now have yourself covered for an unlimited variety of media views. Instead of having one separate site for tablets and another one for smartphones, you’re now covered for the entire spectrum of screen sizes out there. What a deal! But wait – there’s more.
The best part: you may have had a website and a companion mobile site long enough to have suffered maintaining both simultaneously. Updating your regular site, then having to copy over and update the mobile site. Nuts to that! With responsive sites, update once and you’re done. You’ll never have to worry again about maintaining content over multiple sites.
Hope you’re ready to move into the new web. It’s ready for you. For a further confirmation check your Google Analytics. The numbers are sure to show a double-digit percentage of your site visitors viewing your site from a mobile device.