In the last couple of years,  the number of personal devices with which we  browse the internet has increased. Not only that, but the variety of devices we do that with has increased as well.  Samsung Tablets, iPADs,  Google Nexus,  iPhone,  Android phones and the good old desktop, you name it.  All these devices have a different screen size and thus a different user experience when looking at the same website on any of these devices.

In other words the way a website is displayed, needs to be a response to the type of device that is being used. This is what is called a responsive website, or at least this is what a responsive website is set to achieve.

This shift from users browsing your website, solely from a PC or Laptop, to using a wide variety of screen sizes has created an additional challenge for website designers, in terms of optimizing the experience for  ‘all’  devices.  Basically, if you were to look at a non-reponsive website on an average smart phone, the first thing you would notice is that the website is too big for the screen and you would need to scroll to get an impression of what it is hiding. And sometimes you would need to zoom in because the font size is too small to read.

responsive websites

How to test a responsive website, the easy way?

A Responsive website, straight away adapts itself to the device it is displayed on.  A good way to test this, is by increasing and decreasing the width of a browser,  while looking at the content of the website itself, you will see. Making the browser width really small will resemble the same look as that of an average smart phone etc.

To get an idea of the various devices out there and their screen sizes, check the following link.

Responsive website, the good the bad and the somewhere in between

It’s easy to see, why website designers have shifted their focus towards responsive web site designing. I still come across a lot of website, that are 100% non-responsive. There could be a good reason why a website is non-responsive, or partially responsive (only responsive to certain devices). One has to remember, that the notion of responsive website design optimization is fairly new and there certainly is no ‘one size fits all’ approach of making a website responsive. In fact, revamping an otherwise non-responsive web site, can take considerable effort, resources and above all:  dollars.  This because designing a responsive website for every device that exists or will ever exist, if much harder than designing a website specifically aimed at a certain device.

In a way,  making your website responsive, is making your website future proof. On the other hand, one might argue that it is impossible to future proof something against, known unknowns.  I mean, it is impossible to predict the mobile device capabilities, say 5 years down the track.  Realistically, this can be used as  an argument to bash any future proofing, and certainly not an argument that I would use.

 So where is all this leading to?

If I knew for sure, I would be a very successful trader in shares. Where is think it is leading to?  Well first of all, I think there will be more and more websites adapting and optimizing to a larger number of devices.  I think it will also lead to further adaptation of web site layouts to smaller screen mobile devices in particular. Once the developers and designers churn the concept of responsiveness into a readily and easily available  set of tools or frameworks,  that is when we will start to see a huge increase of really well designed, responsive websites.

Until then, it is like Drew Thomas says in his article on this topic