Do You Need Responsive Design?
Within the last few years screen size has increasingly become an issue. We can no longer assume that visitors will always view our website on a desktop computer or laptop. As a matter of fact, they are just as likely to be using a mobile phone or a tablet. As the owner of a website, you will now have to consider how your beautiful site will look when viewed on a small screen? It might not be as nice looking and usable as you might hope. Responsive design is increasingly becoming popular as a solution to this problem. Here it why.
A website with a traditional fixed layout might become too small to read when viewed on a mobile device. Viewers will have to zoom in and out as they read, look at pictures or search for the button to click through to the next page. In the process they lose the larger picture, they get lost on the page. While it is not impossible to view websites this way, it is also not the most pleasurable experience, and you chance losing part of your audience.
One solution that has been around for a while is to pay a developer to create a mobile application to display a mobile version of your site. This is costly if you need just one app but as it turns out, you will need more if you want to be viewed on all devices that are in the market. If you can't do all, then which platform will you create for? Is your viewer more likely to use an iPhone or an Android? Do they have iPads? While mobile applications are a good solution, they are not an option for most owners of websites.
Another solution, WordPress plugins such as WPtouch or WordPress Mobile Pack, will create nice displays of your website for mobile devices, but in the process you loose your branded look. Your theme will be replaced with the theme or themes the plugin provides. While you have choices in the design of your site, your website will still look very different on small screens. This is not good for branding and for setting yourself apart from other similar sites.
Responsive design has become popular because it solves these problems. Your website's essential look is maintained no matter what platform your viewer is using, but its layout changes according to the screen size of the device. Depending on your design, images resize, text elements move into a different position, sidebars move below the text or disappear or the navigation bar changes to a series of buttons. All of this happens via CSS media queries. Your theme detects what screen it is viewed on and applies CSS style rules that are defined for that particular screen width. You end up with a website that looks beautiful on all platforms.
Responsive design allows you to maintain branding and to create an enjoyable user experience for all viewers, no matter their choice of device. to get a feel for what responsive design does - and assuming you are looking at this website on a laptop or PC - grab the lower left corner of your browser window and resize it. You will see how elements of the page move and resize in the process.