Here comes the responsive website

This post introduces the concept of responsive websites and why you should ask for a responsive design when you next decide to update or redesign your company’s website.

Once upon a time, during the prehistoric web-age, websites were optimised for one particular screen resolution; starting from the basic 800 x 600 in the mid 1990s, we saw a rapid evolution of the optimization toward 1024 x 768 or wider.  The resolution of computer screens was increasing slowly and most designers obviously wanted to deliver websites that the majority of users could see properly, often adopting a conservative approach.

In recent years screen technology improved to the point where it’s not unusual to have computers, even laptops, with screens that are 1600 or more pixels wide.  The interesting phenomenon, that somehow started a countertrend, is the advent of a large number of smart-phones and other tablet computers that create a new technical problem all together at least for web designers.

These mobile devices all have high quality screens that can truly browse websites and run powerful graphic applications.  Unfortunately they are all slightly different from each other and come with a range of different resolutions (e.g. 320 x 480 for a Samsung Galaxy Ace, 640 x 960 for iPhone 4 and 1024 x 768 for an iPad).  Further complication is caused  by the fact that these mobile devices can be used in both landscape and portrait view depending on the relevance and format of the content being viewed as well as the viewer’s preferences.

So here comes the concept of responsive websites; which is a web design that no longer suggests or prescribes a specific resolution.On the contrary, it is a design that adapts its content to the device used to visualise it;  for example, menus change shape and form, wide content get aligned,  and pictures are resized, all in the name of better user experience.

The technologies behind web design, nominally HTML and CSS, have introduced  many new instructions that can easily handle a variety of devices and offer different behaviours depending on the resolution and orientation used.

Although the diffusion of smart phones and mobile devices capable of web browsing is still not massive, we are aware that the trend is positive and therefore we are recommending  to all  our clients to include the responsiveness as a standard feature.  Social media is encouraging more and more people to exchange information while on the move and therefore more and more users are browsing websites from mobile devices. Responsiveness is therefore key to being seeing anywhere, anytime.

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