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Exclusive : Gareth Roberts, Mundocom talks ‘Responsive Design’

Responsive Design

Responsive design has grown massively over the last 2 years. With the popularity of the 960 grid systems taking off, due to its flexibility and browser compatibility, fixed grid systems are becoming less and less popular. Brands and agencies alike are quickly realising that a mobile and tablet compatible version of their website is now essential.

People are now receiving emails and linking to websites through a range of devices. Out and about, on the move, we all use and need the internet, so it is vital we can access and view the information we need to quickly and easily. Mundocom

Mobile browsing is predicted to overtake desktop browsing by 2014/15, the simple fact is that as mobile is growing the distinction between mobile and desktop is narrowing. The rise of the smartphone and tablet has transformed consumers browsing habits, while all the different screen sizes have changed the need for responsive design, making it a necessity.  Instead of having multiple sites, one for each device, mobile, tablet and desktop or between various mobile devices themselves, responsive design allows the same content to be optimised for use on several different mediums. There is no standard one size fits all approach for a mobile tablet or browser.

Take the new iPhone5 as an example. Most designers had taken the screen size of the iPhone for granted – and why wouldn’t they, considering the screen had not changed size from the first generation model. This screen size has been taken as an assumed industry standard by some designers for media design queries and phone developers seeking to emulate the iPhones success, but all this is now changing.

I think developers and designers should start with mobile design first, progressing to tablet and then desktop. We all know how to design and develop for desktop but now it’s time to focus on our mobile skills. It’s not just displaying exactly the same content as the desktop version, effective responsive design is about being clever, and displaying the right information in an accessible way. Catering for various screen sizes is the future of web design as we know it.

New devices

We have new devices coming out on a monthly basis. Different screen resolutions, retina displays and now huge desktop monitors. They all need to be thought about. Current screen sizes are just trigger points to the next phase of adaption. A truly responsive design should be able to adapt to the next screen size, whatever it may be.

As mentioned above, the idea is not to display everything on a mobile version. People want to access the information quickly, within a couple of clicks. If you want to see the all singing all dancing website, check it out on your huge widescreen monitor at home. You don’t need to and shouldn’t try to emulate the full version on a mobile or tablet; this would be a bad idea. The big and fancy website works well for desktop, but isn’t right for a smaller mobile device, where websites need to be simple to navigate.

Internet users are more tech savvy today than ever before, responsive design and changing website layout to suit their device is something they expect. Businesses and companies whose websites utilise the benefits of responsive design stand to gain by creating a tailored experience for users. I believe this will help improve user interaction, which in turn means more sales for your business. The internet is always improving and responsive design is just the next step in the on-going evolution of our digital environments.

I’m excited about the future of responsive design. Designers and developers are getting better and better, devices are getting more powerful and the internet will become faster. There will always be something else around the corner so it’s all about keeping on top of things in my opinion.

Move with the times.

Gareth Roberts, Head of Development, Mundocom

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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