What is Responsive Website Design?‏

Many technology analysts and website designers have pre-branded 2013 as the “Year of the Responsive Websites”. Interesting. But what does it mean and how important is it for the user, the designer and the business?

The History of Resolution.
Well let’s start at the beginning. When the Internet was invented, it was used for communicating data. As the Internet expanded and more businesses required a web-presence, the look and feel of the this data became more important. Back then, a computer resolution was an average 640×480 pixels. This meant, that programmers could build a website to this specification, knowing that would be the optimal viewing size of the end-user. But technology is an ever-growing machine and over the years, our monitors grew and grew. According to W3Schools, the statistical readings for users in January 2013 showed that a whopping 90% of users were viewing their site through a screen size larger than 1024×768. This indication puts huge pressure on website designers to ensure that their work still looks great on a much larger scale. The trouble is that it doesn’t end there…

The Post-PC Era.
Apple’s clever play on words at their conference last year sums up the age in which we live. No more do users need to wait until they get to the office to check out the website advertised on the bus shelter, they can do it on their mobile devices. Smart-phones and Tablets are a major part of our society now, making the need for versatile website resolutions even more apparent. Each company producing web-enabled devices has multiple screen sizes and resolutions, making the categorisation of screen size almost impossible. Even the steady-design of the Apple iPhone comes in at least three different resolutions as we enter 2013.

The Solution?.
Responsive Website Design. Instead of building a website in photoshop and splicing it up to make the exact look and feel of a website, we live in an age where every element of the website needs to be carefully configured to reflect the screen it’s being viewed on. This is where CMS’s come in handy. For the average Website Designer with a tad of HTML experience, adding in queries to test the screen size can be daunting. So more and more websites are being developed using content management systems, which take care of a lot of the leg-work – so the designers can focus on… well… the design!

This year will no-doubt host an array of new devices from Samsung, Apple, Sony and more. So with the “average screen size” being a thing of the past, it’s time to look to a future that revolves around Responsive Websites.

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