Of all modern gadgets, it can be hard to think of anything that has had the same impact as the introduction of the iPhone. Indeed, for many years, Apple has been at the forefront of innovative product design bringing us the iMac, Macbook, and of course, the iPad.
More than any other company, Apple has pioneered and promoted our use of the mobile internet, and at the same time, changed the way websites are designed. Indeed, when Apple decided to drop its support of Adobe Flash, it virtually ended the use of the software within the design community. Apple declared that Flash made unacceptably heavy use of resources in its mobile devices, ultimately resulting in the product being retired from use later this year.
How Mobile Use is Driving Web Design
Our use of the mobile internet has been growing consistently for the last ten years. Currently, internet access on mobile devices accounts for around 51% of all web use, which is a huge increase from just 0.7% back in 2009.
Of course, the rise in mobile devices to access the internet has also substantially changed what we have come to expect from websites. When the iPhone and iPad were launched, most sites were still constructed using rigid, fixed tables. These were layouts that weren’t fluid enough to adapt to the smaller screens seen on mobile devices.
Consequently, designers like web design Walsall company, the ALT Agency, were forced to adopt new design practices that allowed sites to scale, depending on the device, platform, and screen orientation. As a result, a whole new discipline of website development was born—that of responsive web design.
The Nuts and Bolts of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design essentially involves using scripts to automatically change a site’s layout to suit the resolution and orientation of the device being used by the viewer. The most common ways we interact with the internet are via desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices, although there is also a burgeoning market using TVs and gaming platforms these days.
A properly constructed responsive site will scale to a variety of resolutions and screen sizes for successful viewing on any device. This adaptability has the added bonus of saving designers from having to build multiple versions of the same site for different platforms while also hugely improving the user experience.
The Top Considerations – Detecting Device and Screen Resolution
To achieve this cross-platform functionality, modern websites are now constructed using scalable CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and the ground-breaking HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language). Using clever scripting, websites can detect the resolution and size of the device being used to view content and display a version of the site most appropriate for the user.
In addition, the site can even change for use in landscape (horizontal) perspective or portrait (vertical) view. In real terms, this means designers have to consider a huge variety of possible screen resolutions and orientations, and that’s just to accommodate mobile devices. The picture gets increasingly more complex when you also consider the vast array of other gadgets we use to view websites.
Why is Responsive Design Important
Mobile devices have completely changed how we interact with — and how much time spend — on the internet. As more lives move online and our reliance on the internet increases, having a responsive design is the only way to ensure your clients can view your site and content properly.
It’s estimated the average adult now spends around five hours per day online browsing sites and social media platforms. Indeed, research suggests that users in the US spend 77% of their online time browsing on mobile platforms.
If your current website was designed more than ten years ago, the chances are high that it will have been constructed using the old-style, rigid table layout. The easiest way to check if your site is responsive is to try viewing it on a mobile device as compared to a laptop or desktop. If you find the text doesn’t scale up to improve legibility and the site appears tiny in your screen, this can be a sure sign that your site needs an upgrade.
What to do If Your Site isn’t Responsive
The majority of web design companies will be highly skilled at performing website redesigns and will be able to guide you safely through the process of porting content from your old site to a new format. One very important consideration when looking to redesign your site is not losing your search engine ranking on specific pages, so always bear in mind it’s a good idea to keep previous page URL’s the same to save losing precious rankings.
While you can also look at adding new pages or sections during a redesign, it’s good practice to retain previously listed pages. Again, an experienced design company will offer advice.