When it comes to creating a responsive web design, even seasoned web professionals tend to get confused because this requires a radical change in thinking. As time has passed on, responsive website designs are not longer regarded as passing fads but have now become standard practice in the world of web designing. This paradigm shift can be compared to how table based layouts transitioned to CSS. In simple words, this is a very unique way of designing websites and gives a picture of what the future of web designing will be like.
What is responsive web design?
The first ever responsive website design was created by web designer, Ethan Marcotte. To understand what these web designs actually are, it is important to remember that today even mobile devices have web browsers to surf through the Internet. The first mobile device that featured a proper web browser was the iPhone. As other mobile devices followed in the footsteps of the iPhone, the face and experience of the mobile web changed almost overnight.
Since the landscape of mobile web browsers changed, so even the expectations of users changed as well. Browsing the web on mobile devices became as easy as browsing on a desktop computer. This was when mobile versions of website began emerging from within the web design community. These “mobile” versions were actually a bonus of the “desktop” version of websites.
However, technology soon marched forward and this marked the advent of small notebook computers and touchscreen tablets in the phone hardware market. Now these small-sized personal computer devices had high-resolution displays as well, and of course, web designers wanted to take advantage of this. This is what gave rise to the concept of a responsive web design.
As technology continues to advance, screen resolutions and sizes of personal computers and mobile devices continue to vary. However, it is not practical for website designers to create different versions of a website simply for targeting every new device. This is the problem that is addressed by responsive website designs because such a website design tends to readjust according to the screen resolution and size of any device. No matter how thin or wide a browser a responsive website design comfortably readjusts to fit the screen.
The use of a fluid grid is a key idea behind a responsive web design. In terms of proportions, a fluid grid is designed more carefully, unlike a layout that is designed based on arbitrary percentage values or rigid pixels. This way, when a layout is stretched or squeeze depending on the screen-size of a device, the widths of every element in the layout are resized in relation to each other.
The best way of seeing a responsive website design in action is by opening up a website with a responsive design in a desktop web browser. Make the browser thinner by slowly resizing it. As the size of the browser changes, all the elements on the page will also automatically readjust themselves to fit the changing width. Even the browser is reduced down to the size of a mobile browser; the web page will still manage to readjust in order to be clearly visible. This is what a responsive web design is.