Chances are you’ve heard the term “Responsive Web Design” once or twice in the last few months. You may have seen it on a blog, a job posting, a book, or perhaps your boss has mentioned it and asked you to look into it. While the term itself can hold various interpretations, the concept is quite clear – responsive web design is the process of designing user interfaces that render efficiently regardless of viewing device. In other words, design one layout that looks good on everything (mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computer screens).
The main goal behind responsive web design is to deliver the best user experience possible. That’s right, give your users the good stuff whether they’re viewing your site on their iPhone, a 60″ projector screen, or anything in between. With the emergence and rapid growth of mobile technology, responsive web design is quickly becoming a popular and logical solution for a variety of websites and applications.
Below are a few main reasons to go responsive:
Mobile technology is growing faster than we can keep up with. This growth has forced many companies [small and large] to convert their standard desktop user experiences into mobile format. If they don’t, they risk losing users and falling behind their competition. Responsive web design offers the ability to code specific CSS that conforms to mobile displays and delivers an optimized mobile experience.
2) Build Once
Another advantage of going responsive is the ability to build once, which can save A LOT of time for designers and developers. For example, building one responsive stylesheet is easier to maintain than a desktop stylesheet and a mobile stylesheet. Not only does this consume more time and resources, but it defeats the purpose of DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) web practices.
3) Cost Effective
The major alternative to responsive web design is mobile app development. For larger companies [with larger budgets] this may be a viable alternative, but for smaller companies there’s typically not enough capital to pay for native iPhone and Android apps. The cost of 2 mobile developers (iOS and Java) is about 3 times the cost of a solid front-end web developer. And on top of that, the time to market for mobile apps is generally longer than a standard HTML/CSS/JS website.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely biased towards responsive web design. Not because I’m a front-end developer myself, but because of the logic behind the points above. I also think responsive web design is a more lucrative and sustainable option for most organizations compared to native app development. However, at the end of the day each organization should decide on a solution that works best for their team and needs.