Responsive Design vs. Mobile Design

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Responsive Design – More Than a Trend!

What’s the big deal about Responsive Design? First of all, let’s define it. Responsive Design is a practise followed by Web Developers to properly display content across a plethora of devices such as Tablets and Smartphones. Responsive Design is often referred to as Mobile Design, but they’re not quite the same.

Responsive Design is a variety of techniques (codes) used to appropriately display content across mobile devices. Mobile Design on the other hand, is the equivalent of Web Design, but for smaller screens. Here’s how their planning stages differ:

Responsive Design Planning

  • Which Platform(s) will be supported (ie: iOS, Android, BB, Windows)
  • Which Devices supported (eg: iPad mini, Galaxy Tab 3, BB Torch)
  • Which Orientation (fixed or dual orientation)
  • Use of Client-side Detect and Adapt (JavaScript)
  • Media Queries via CSS (multiple layouts)
  • Use of Viewport codes to control size screen size
  • Image Resolutions to be supported

Mobile Design Planning

  • Site Purpose
  • Site Look and Feel
  • Site Content Strategy
  • Site Infrastrucutre, Navigation
  • Audience and Value Sought
  • Strategy to Attract Visitors

Responsive Design vs. Mobile Design

Not all websites are created equal, nor should they. I think that all sites though, should be capable of adapting to whatever device is being used to access them. Adaptability does not necessarily mean that everything is 100% responsive. In many cases, it means integrating the appropriate functionality so that no one will have a “crappy” experience (ie: things displayed out-of-whack, not loading, …). For instance, if you have a 30 minute video streaming in your website, a smaller version could be made available to people using Smartphones (using client-side detect and adapt); if you have an Infographic that is not legible on tiny screens, use a fixed min. size setting (via viewport codes), or force display in landscape mode. There are many options that allow developers to deliver a positive experience for everyone. One should never simply assume that people visiting their website will not do so with mobile devices.

Let’s face it, the number of users accessing the web with mobile devices is rapidly increasing making it mandatory for developers to plan the display of their content across platforms. Responsive design as it currently exists, is not a perfect solution however, as with everything else web-related, it is evolving. Responsive Design is not a trend. I do believe however, that in a few years, the term Responsive Design will fade-out as it becomes “par-for-the-course” with new Web Development tools facilitating implementation across the board. Wishful thinking on my part? :)

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Written by

CIO, Contenta Web Services - Louise Lalonde-Morin is an innovative and creative Web Projects Manager with 20+ years of experience developing web business solutions for small and medium-size organizations. Louise delivers the right mix of Business, Content, and Design.

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