The Internet has created a way for people to easily exchange and share news, information, products, services, and new ideas.
Early web design was simple: create a web site that will display the content on the web. The technologies were basic and the layouts were much of the same, but as advancing technology offered new ways for people to access the Internet, it also gave rise to new design challenges. We needed our content to modify to better fit the screens of the users browsing our websites.
As screens started to become larger, our sites needed to fill the additional space with more content. The challenge became creating content that would work with large displays without alienating users with smaller displays. The answer was fluid layouts. This would allow the website to resize the layout based on the size of the display. It wasn't always perfect, but it worked for a while. The problem came when screens began to change size in a new direction - instead of becoming larger, screens began to shrink, giving mobile phones and tablets their introduction to the World Wide Web. Buttons and links that were easily clickable by mouse became far too small to get with a finger. Browsing the web on a mobile device required a lot of zooming and even more patience on the user's part. Something needed to change to allow mobile users to more easily use the web.
Web pages had long been targeting computers, so why couldn't we target mobile devices with their own pages? Developers started creating pages that were specifically made for mobile devices, and would direct mobile users to these mobile-friendly pages instead of the main-computer-only full website. This solved many of the problems created by mobile browsing but not all. While the pages worked to create a mobile-friendly experience, the fact was that for each site on the internet, there were essentially two websites with the same content. For SEO (search ranking) and site maintainability, this was a nightmare. The mobile-only site was more of a stop gap to solve a problem rather than the perfect solution we all wanted. We needed a more responsive approach.
Web design has evolved a lot over the years, but nothing has changed the layout landscape like responsive web design. We now have the ability to take the same web page and dynamically change the layout easily to allow a great user experience on whatever device a user is browsing on. We can resize and shift elements, remove unnecessary content that would require additional resources and load times, and add more content on screens that have more than enough virtual real estate. We can finally target all users regardless of device, and keep a more maintainable and SEO-friendly website through responsive web design.
Author: Chris Durfee
Chris Durfee attended Utah Valley University and has been working in development for 6 years. He believes that now is an exhilarating time to work in development as we are always developing new software to engage more users than ever before. Chris is one of our leading developers and has worked on exciting projects like the Business Promotion Appointment Reminder System and our new corporate website, which can be found at businesspromotion.com.