The term “responsive web design” refers to websites that change and adapt their appearance for optimal viewing on all screen sizes, tablets, smartphones, ipods, kindles, and desktop and laptop computer screens. Occasionally, in the digital arts industry, it is called “fluid design”, “responsive website design”, or “RWD”. Unresponsive websites don’t change to accommodate different screen sizes, which means they can be difficult to navigate and view on smaller devices.

Desktop sales have already been surpassed by mobile sales, and most digital media education sources predict that mobile web usage will surpass desktop usage by 2014. So it seems logical that search for Desktop will soon be overtaken by mobile search as well. Sixty percent of web users say they would be more inclined to shop on mobile-optimized websites. Therefore, businesses that rely on SEO would make a lot of sense to start moving towards mobile-friendly sites and responsive site designs specifically. Especially since new Google algorithm updates now frown on separate mobile-only sites. Like those with in the url. Increasingly, new websites are being built using responsive design methods to eradicate the requirement for standalone mobile websites. Furthermore, this decision drastically improves the user experience. This leads to more customer interaction and sales, as potential customers aren’t alienated by tiny text and difficult navigation.

For responsive layouts to work, a media query is used to determine the size of the screen from which the site is accessed. The script can detect all devices, be it tablets, laptops or smartphones. It then uses CSS to display the website in a suitable format. Images can be resized accordingly to fit smaller screens. Text gets bigger, and menus can change to a variety of different dropdown formats, as opposed to the mostly standard horizontal display.

The benefits of using this type of layout, compared to setting up a mobile version of your website that is completely separate from your original site, are obvious. Every time you update your website, it will update for each device and display correctly on each screen. You only have to update in one location, where with a separate mobile site would require a separate location that also requires updating. Often your websites will be accessed from a tablet. If you have two separate sites, a mobile version and a desktop version, anyone can guess which version of the site tablet users will see. With a responsive design, you can control (mostly) what will be seen on each screen size.

Several companies offer both fluid design and mobile design for websites. However, RWD methods are constantly improving, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in having a separate mobile website. The only time you might want a separate site would be if you prefer to advertise differently to laptop or desktop users, compared to the way you would.

to mobile users. For example, a fast food company might want to target people on the go with an instant special, but show their upcoming promotions and menu to laptop users. However, in many cases, a website will serve all users in the same way, so a responsive design is the preferred option.

In the fast approaching future, all websites should have responsive designs as users will expect it. Therefore, in a couple of years, companies that create non-responsive websites will have to pay for a new site to compensate their users for the lack of their website. Consequently, before starting any new website design project, it would be advisable to learn more about the cost and advantages of responsive designs.