Dec 192012

As more and more Web use goes mobile, web design must be responsive to the new needs of users and the companies whose sites they will access. The work is refined quite often, and designers must become adept at the many different preferences their users demand.

In addition to companies who request “iPhone websites”, the whole Android operating system has a group of users who want the same access for their devices. It would be virtually impossible to create specific sites for each brand of mobile device available on the market today.

Flexible designs are the key to allowing web sites to be accessed by the greatest number of users. Pages designed for larger screens become difficult to predict when they go to the smaller screens of smartphones and other devices.

The way forward is fully responsive web design that treats devices as different facets of one singular experience, rather than as disconnected devices. The need is for sites to provide optimal viewing for users, while still allowing for technologies in the designs to remain standards-based. They need to be adaptive and flexible in the media that is rendering them visible to the user.

How can web design be more responsive? It has always had options for differing types of media, and the ability to target specific classes of web devices. But in the past, this may have resulted in some media types being perfectly implemented while others were ignored.

With web design today, the promise of adapting to different media types has become less a promise and more a reality. You can target specific classes of devices and also see what the device will make your web work look like. Specifying web pages for differing media queries brings up changes that widen the scope of how each page appears on differing devices.

Web design today must not only respond, but also adapt to the changes in the devices we use to access information. Fixes can be used to allow a design to better respond to display changes with different devices. Web designers are working to create sites that allow for changes in device resolution as well as in the differing widths of windows.

Images can be shifted so that they appear in an easy to read layout with varieties of devices. More can be altered than simply the image placement. New layouts can be attuned to each different range of resolution, allowing prominent navigation views even on smaller screens.

Responsive web design is not limited to changes in layout alone. The pages can be fine-tuned, and the target area for links can be increased for adaptation to smaller screens. Designers can hide or show elements to enhance navigation and even alter the size of text gradually, so that each person has an optimal experience, regardless of whether they are viewing the page on a monitor or a smartphone.

Media queries and flexible images work in responsive web design, even though the task as a whole requires thinking differently. Instead of creating experiences for each individual device in use today – and tomorrow – web designers can enhance their work to be viewed in many different sizes and types of screens. Responsive web design offers designers a way in which they can move forward, designing for the future of web sites on many different devices.

Responsive web design also have to take into account customer conversions and SEO. Customer conversions must be tracked to see if the display on one device outperforms the others. Adjustments may need to be made based upon this information.

In regard to search engine optimization, mobile SEO best practices need to be taken into account. If going the responsive web design route there may not be as many changes. If, however, you have one website served up for laptops and PCs and another for tablets and cell phones then things get a little more complex.

See the resource links below for more information on the topics listed in this article.