Providing an Optimal Experience
Responsive web design allows us to build sites that provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices—whether you’re on a smartphone or a 27” monitor. It allows easy reading and navigation without the drudgery of resizing, panning, and scrolling or the time and expense of building customized mobile apps for the major platforms.
And that’s a really good thing since nearly half of your customers go online mostly using their smartphones—in fact, mobile and tablet browsing is expected to eclipse desktop-based access within three to five years. This very page you’re reading right now receives 31 percent of its traffic from smartphones and tablets.
Responsive design gives us the freedom to build a site that can dynamically change to fit each user and platform. A media query allows us to target not only certain device classes but also to actually inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work. We then prioritize content and make strategic choices as elements shift and reposition themselves. For example, we could highlight the contact info and social media elements when a user is browsing on a smartphone or adjust the text size and readability when a user is on a tablet device.
During a typical responsive design project, designers begin with the desktop design and work to prioritize and scale content for numerous breakpoints dictated by the thousands of different devices and screen sizes. For certain clients, however, who want to prioritize mobile traffic over desktop mobile-first design reverses this process. Rather than porting the desktop version, the content is optimized for the smallest screens first (mobile), and as the need arises, the site can gradually be improved for larger platforms with fewer constraints. Think “progressive enhancement” rather than “graceful degradation.”
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