The Web Today (Pt. 1)

Responsive Times, Responsive Measures

The web today is vastly different than the web of yesterday. Currently, there are over 4 billion mobile devices in use around the world, which in turn means that mobile browsing is not just on the rise, but will soon start to dominate the market. With this truth in mind, we run into some sizable problems when we view webpages that were designed strictly for one screen size. One of those problems is the amount of differing screen sizes available on current devices.

The arrival of the iPhone in 2007 was nothing short of extraordinary. It normalized mobile web browsing by creating a simple experience that enabled its owners to access the internet quickly, with just a few clicks.

Just three years later in 2010, Apple released the iPad. This not only was an impressive device, but it also created a market that didn’t exist prior to its introduction, bringing more people to the web, to apps, to their information. This was nothing short of incredible.

With these two devices and hundreds of devices like them, becoming more readily available, we find ourselves viewing the same websites on devices with varying screen sizes. This, in many cases, can prove to be problematic due to sites being built for one screen. This obstacle can turn enjoyable experiences into rather awkward moments of constant zooming, tapping, and scrolling– which can leave the user feeling frustrated.

This problem in many cases, according to Ethan Marcotte, can be solved with Responsive Web Design.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a technique used by many to create a website that can be viewed on an array of different devices, regardless of screen resolution or browser size. They are built with fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries. Now, I reckon that may sound like a bunch of nonsense to most– and that’s perfectly okay.

What is important is this:

The site’s content, when viewed on a variety of devices, will rearrange itself to be clearly accessible for the user. No more constant zooming, tedious tapping, or awkward scrolling. This is a huge advantage to our users. This enables the viewer to access the important information they need– much quicker. Whether that’s a phone number, address, portfolio, bio, or an item in a store, we need to be focused on guarding that experience for our customers/viewers. Because in turn, that experience directly affects our brand image, our rapport with current and future customers, and most importantly, our business.

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