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During 2012 there were many progressions in the world of web design, and one of the main success stories was the growth and popularity of responsive web design.

It’s no wonder either, as we were in need of something like this, to give an ounce of flexibility to traditional design – which is exactly what responsive design has done. With more and more of us choosing to browse the web using both tablets and smart phones in addition to out laptops and tablets – a responsive way to altering the size and layout of a website immediately and hassle free was drastically needed. And fast.

Responsive design works using the media queries found within a web browser – these media queries then “translate” the website to fit the user’s screen and size – ensuring the website has been specially reformatted to suit the screen in question. It’s great for saving time as a user – as it means you needn’t worry about being redirected to a mobile site, or even worrying about data charges – when you mobile attempts to download huge photographs and files intended for desktop viewing.

So saying this, the rewards of responsive design seem at first, endless and it is unarguably a huge leap forward for the web design world, and a big step forward into fully responsive web browsing on all websites. It’s something that has so far, benefitted not only users, but clients and designers too, as I’ll explain below:

Costing

As responsive design means they’re only paying for one design (as opposed to two or thee) responsive design may be a great way to cut costs easily on the client side of things. If you’ve been using multiple designers for different designs in the past (for example: desktop design, mobile design and tablet design) then swapping to one designer – who can cover all may be a great step forward for your bank account.

The ease of maintenance

This is a benefit for both the client and the designer, as it’s going to save both parties time and money. The ease of maintenance with responsive design is key to its success because there is only one site to be adjusting and monitoring. If things need updating – they only need doing so on one set of code and on one design.

Brand consistency

As with the ease of access and maintenance, having only one design also (rather handily) keeps the branding consistent across all sites, as it’s only one design being resized. This means that if the logo changes on the mobile site – it is automatically changed on all others too… meaning you don’t need to worry about inconsistency in your branding.

There are challenges too though.

As with any new design feature, there are going to be problems that arise too with the process, as I’ve outlined below. Of course, these issues can usually be combatted with communication and planning – but it’s always worth knowing about the pitfalls, should you ever run into one of them.

Development time

As with most new technologies like this, the development time can be a bit longer. This is something you need to make your client aware of (if you’re a designer) and it’s something you need to be clear on (if you’re the client). Make sure time expectations are set well before the process begins, so that everyone is happy.

Are your sites used differently?

Sometimes, mobile users use the mobile sites in a different way to how they would use the desktop sites, and this is because the sites translate differently to different social contexts. Sometimes, because of this – you may not need a responsive site, and a simply mobile site will do the trick.

Media Queries on outdated browsers

This will surprise you, but not all browsers support media queries – which means that (unfortunately) if your user is accessing your responsive site from an outdated browser – they won’t be seeing the website how you intended them to see it. There isn’t much you can do about this either, which is annoying, unless you were to update all the browsers of all your users and customers (which seems unlikely). The best you can do is set up a friendly reminder – asking visitors to make sure they’re using an updated browser.

About the Author

Elle-Rose Williams is a freelance writer working with Who Is Hosting This, who you can find out more about here. Elle writes mainly about web design and social media branding.


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