Responsive Web Design

Technology Watch – Responsive Website Design (RWD)
One of the goals for our monthly article is to keep you informed of new ideas in website design and social media.  Responsive Website Design (RWD) became a coined phrase in the website world in late 2011 and in 2012 was listed #2 in top web design trends by .net magazine. The responsive website design approach is aimed at developing sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). 

Responsive Website Design – Advantages
There are several wonderful advantages to having a responsive design with your website.  One of the biggest advantages is that the site displays very nicely across all devices and all screen sizes. You also have one complete view for all traffic to your website, since it does not force re-directs to a different URL like a stand-alone mobile website does.  Responsive websites can also minimize maintenance demands for your website since you only need to make an update in one location.  

Responsive Website Design – Disadvantages
There are also some drawbacks to responsive web design. Search engine optimization for responsive websites can suffer on the mobile side.  Without getting too technical, determining proper keywords and content for responsive websites can be challenging.  Mobile users tend to use different keywords when searching than desktop users do. This happens for a variety of reasons. Finding the right way to balance the search engine optimization for mobile users and desktop users can be challenging on a responsive site. If you have a stand-alone mobile site, it can be optimized separately from your main site.  Another disadvantage is that your website can take more time to load. With responsive design, we tend to use larger images that scale dynamically (in dimension but not in file size) for smaller screens. Additionally, on mobile devices users tend to have to scroll much more since all content from the desktop site is displayed on the mobile version. In many cases, your mobile site doesn’t need to have all the content that a desktop user would see. Mobile users tend to want basic information and they want to access it quickly. 

Talk to your webmaster
Most people have traditional websites right now, since responsive design is relatively new. Traditional websites can be challenging to convert to a responsive design from their current state, since the development techniques are different. Typically, a developer will want to start from scratch when “converting” a traditional site to responsive design. If you want to go with a responsive website design, talk to your webmaster about your options.  An easy way to make sure you are mobile ready with your current website (without having to redesign it in a responsive format) is to just have a mobile website built (see last month’s article). With this approach, a small block of code is inserted on your existing website to detect a mobile phone or tablet user, and that user is automatically redirected to the mobile friendly version of your site.

As always, give us a call if we can answer any of your questions on responsive website design. Our goal is always to help business owners establish a complete, affordable, and effective web presence!

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Sandy Waggett, MSW Interactive Designs LLC ~ We put the web to work for you!


  1. Thank you for this detailed article. It has been really helpful for my web design training.


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