More and more web users are browsing online from the mobile devices, hence the need for responsive web design. More than ever before, websites are being viewed from devices with screens as small as eight centimetres in width, resulting in frustrating experiences for many users when a website will simply not display as a functional document. Smartphones in particular have gained in popularity in the past few years, and these small screened but highly capable devices are now the central internet browsing choice for millions of users. In fact, many people no longer use a computer to go online, but complete all of their business and pleasure activities solely on their smartphones.
The challenge then for web designers and website developers is to create a website that caters to both traditional computer users as well as those who are browsing from mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. When mobile devices first started attracting the attention of developers, many selected to simply create two versions of a website: one for computer users, another for mobile users. However, this resulted in duplicate content, of which more than ever before is now frowned upon excessively by the search engines. Additionally, running what is essentially two separate websites is simply not feasible or logical, particularly for larger sites, which is why responsive web design makes sense.
Nowadays, when it comes to responsive web design the goal is to create a single website that functions perfectly on all devices and screen sizes. And most importantly, a website that is smart enough to be able to detect which type of device it is being accessed from, and then calling on the right files and scripts accordingly. Responsive web design is more important than ever and basically states that a website should be usable from just one set of files so that no complex programming is required. This allows web developers to create mobile friendly websites with minimal server side processing being required.
Users interact with websites differently from their smartphones compared with their computers; for example, tapping the screen rather than clicking a mouse. To this end, focusing on small but highly important aspects like larger buttons and larger textboxes for typing will only enhance the experience of those web browsers who are accessing your website from their mobile phone.
Improving the mobile user experience, and consequently responsive web design is a process that needs to be planned well from the beginning. As the planning stage will allow developers to identify which aspects of a website are the most critical for mobile users, thereby allowing the enhancement of these important features to allow the very best experience for mobile web users.