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What Is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design allows a site’s layout to change as the screen size being used to view that site changes. A wide screen display can receive a site design with multiple columns of content while a small screen can have that same content presented in a single column with text and links that are appropriately sized to be read and used on that smaller display.

It is estimated that by 2013, mobile phones will overtake the PC as the most common web access device worldwide. Will you be ready?

Responsive web design is, put simply, a website that “responds” to the device that a user is viewing it on. The term was coined by respected web developer and author Ethan Marcotte in his book entitled, “Responsive Web Design”. It is named after a movement in architecture known as “responsive architecture,” in which experiments have been going on for years. For example, one German design consultancy used tensile materials and robotics to create “a wall that can bend and flex as people approach it, potentially creating more or less space as the size of the crowd requires.” So the question was asked, “why can’t the web do the same thing?” Why should you be constrained by the size and resolution of your web browsers and computer monitors?

The web’s moved beyond the desktop, and it’s not looking back. The number of devices we’re designing for is growing just as quickly as mobile traffic.

Ethan Marcotte

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illustration by

Is responsive design just a trend?

Of course, no marketing method or design type is perfect, and responsive design is no exception. There are a few cons to responsive design, including:

  • Not every site looks great on every device
  • You may want to offer different things to different users according to which device they use, and this can be somewhat difficult on responsive websites
  • You could run into problems with resized advertisements or banner ads
  • It may be difficult for you to create a responsive website on your own that is unique and accurate to your branding

Still, there are disadvantages to every kind of design, not just responsive. The overwhelming majority of responsive website statistics reinforce the idea that this is the best approach.

For example, 61 percent of mobile users say they will leave your website immediately if they cannot find what they are looking for, or if your website won’t load the information. So even despite the drawbacks, responsive design is what the overwhelming majority of Internet users prefer, because it makes the mobile browsing process that much easier.

Embrace responsive design for your website

If responsive website success stories don’t convince you to make the change to this way of designing, then let the cost and time savings convince you. Responsive design is an important part of any modern web strategy — and it should be part of yours, too.

If you’re ready to invest in a responsive website, check out our responsive design page and our web design calculator to learn more about how much a new design will cost, as well as some other additional benefits we didn’t cover in this article. You’re also more than welcome to contact our friendly experts at Scellus to get a free, completely customized quote to make your site responsive!

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