May 17, 2012
A few years ago, responsive web UI design was a fancy way for a company to impress viewers and make a website compatible with any user's preferred resolution. However, with the plethora of screen sizes on various devices available today, from tablets and smartphones to traditional PCs, responsive design is becoming more of a necessity for a business to build a successful web portal.
According to Ars Technica, responsive web design is a fairly new technique, and as such hasn't seen widespread adoption yet. As more companies recognize the usefulness of being able to design one website that displays equally well on a 24-inch desktop monitor as it does on a 4-inch phone screen, it may quickly become a standard of web design usability.
Responsive design was popularized in part by Ethan Marcotte, an industry expert who recently helped the Boston Globe redesign its popular website according to responsive standards. Marcotte pointed out that responsive design can help cut major costs of creating a website by allowing a business to pay for one site, rather than a site for PCs, a site for mobile, a site for tablets, etc.
On Wired's Webmonkey blog, Scott Gilbertson recently showed that one of the most important parts of responsive design is having images resize properly. Not only is this an issue if the image creates display problems when viewing a website on different devices, but increasing resolution quality of screens is forcing developers to use high-quality images, sucking up bandwidth on small mobile devices that don't need to display the full-sized picture.
According to Gilbertson, while a fully functioning solution to this problem has not been worked out yet, many experts in the design community are working toward a useful option that will be both simple to use and provide a quick answer to the issue.
With web design, it is important that a website meets user needs, provides the services that the business needs it to and is easy to upgrade or change in the future. These principles are what drive the evolution of development and help establish standards in the industry. Responsive web design is just one step in a long line of new changes that can help designers and owners make better websites, but it isn't the last part of that chain either.