The term “responsive” is everywhere these days in the world of web design. But this term is more than just a buzzword. It represents an entire shift in the way of thinking about how to build and display sites.
Responsive web design is an idea that’s been around since 2010 when Ethan Marcott, in an article for A List Apart, first came up with the term. Only three years later, Mashable has called 2013 The Year of Responsive Design and it has become the industry norm.
What Is Responsive Design
Responsive design simply means is that content is displayed slightly differently depending on the size of the screen. Smaller screens, such as smartphones, have the content displayed in a way to make it easy to read and easy to navigate using touch controls. Some content that could require a lot of bandwidth to download may be left out. Medium sized screens, such as tablets, might rearrange things a bit and allow for a few more things to be included on the page. Desktop sized screens used to be the norm, and many sites continue to be focused on this type of display. But even desktops are not a one-size-fits all since displays can vary in size and resolution. And what about multiple monitors? Not to mention things like large screen TVs…
How Does It Work?
To design a website to be responsive takes some planning and decision making up front. The best approach is a “mobile first” approach where you start with the content and then determine how to best display it when sized for the smallest screens. Next is to choose breakpoints (defined largely by the width of the display) where the design will change, and then adjust the site layout at that point. With each larger breakpoint new content can be added or rearranged to best fill the available space.
Responsive design is just good practice at this point and should be something you look for when choosing a theme. The good news is that all of CyberChimps themes are built this way. Our Responsive theme (http://cyberchimps.com/responsive-theme/) is a great example. With a responsive theme, you know your site will be optimized to help you look your best on whatever device your visitors happen to be using.