The days when we used to simply design a website at an optimum 960 pixels, knowing it would suit most screen sizes, are long gone.
As use of – and confidence in – smartphones and tablets has grown and grown many web designers have found themselves chasing their tails. It’s not just that screen sizes are getting smaller. The way people interact with websites has shifted significantly with the rise of touchscreens.
What’s more, as people increasingly visit websites ‘on the hoof’, the need to give them exactly what they’re looking for as quickly as possible is greater than ever.
So what’s the answer?
Building a different version of your website for each device that it might be accessed from is one option. But with new devices emerging all the time, that would be time-consuming, costly and complex – just think of the reams of web code. It would be practically unmanageable.
A simpler solution is to use responsive design.
This more intuitive approach to web design enables a site to adapt itself to suit the platform used to access it. So, someone logging in via their PC will see the full-blown version, but elements of this are shrunk when a tablet or smartphone user lands on the page. Less essential details that could clutter the page and frustrate someone using a smaller screen are stripped away altogether.
The upshot is that content and design are tailored strategically to deliver an enhanced user experience. It is done in one swoop, at the start of the web development process, which means it is more adaptable and easier to maintain.
Using responsive design upfront leads to a more malleable website. Much better than trying to shoe-horn the entire large-screen version into a matchbox sized screen.
No doubt, in time, an aggregator will come along with a techy solution to the multiple-device conundrum. Until that day comes, my money is on responsive design as the most effective way to ensure your website is engaging, relevant and easy to use. At the end of the day, that’s all anyone wants from their online experience.