Responsive Web Design – What it means for Developers and Users.

You may have seen the phrase ‘Responsive Design‘ online as of late.  Like a lot of web concepts, it solves a number of problems while at the same time offering up new challenges.  We’ve been doing a lot of research and refinement as of late with particular concentration in this area.  We feel this new practice has a lot of benefit to our current, and future partners.  Here at Ah So Designs, part of our mission is to provide our partners with gargantuan value.  Part of that gargantuan value is to enlighten our partners about the techniques and practices we employ, and why that is good for them.

Responsive Design can trace its roots to an article by Ethan Marcotte.  He got the concept from Responsive Architecture, which is worth a look if you’ve got a few minutes.  Web architects are doing some pretty neat stuff these days.  That’s part of the universality of design, certain concepts are multi-disciplinary.  Much in the same way architects are taking formerly static, immovable surfaces and making them contort and flex to accomodate crowds, web design is taking a formerly static method of delivering information ( a piece of paper w) and making it flex and contort to the demands of the user ( web page ).

There are three main benefits to responsive design that we can think of right off the top of our nunchucks:

  • Responsive WordPress designs allows you to develop one site so instead of developing a separate site for mobile and desktop, you create one.  Just think: incredible ROI and better customer experience.
  • Responsive WordPress design is available on wide range of devices upon which content can be displayed from a single, updatable source.   For example, imagine you’ve got a WordPress blog, why heck (sorry, we’re southern and sometimes speak redneck), even the latest wordpress comes with a default theme that’s responsive, twentyeleven.  Check it out Twenty Eleven for the basic concept. Now you can have a WordPress website, and from one interface, you can be sure your content is deliverable to a much wider demographic with ease.  No separate apps for mobile and tablet devices, no crazy separate stylesheets targeting mobile browsers.  Are you excited yet???!!!
  • Responsive WordPress design doesn’t need crazy plugins

Sure, you lose out on a few fancy things.  No fancy drop-downs, no :hover states ( touch devices don’t do ‘hover’ like your mouse pointer does ).  Realistically though, a lot of usability testing is indicative of the old design axiom “Less is more.” So you often have to ask yourself: “Do I really need all those menu options? Is there perhaps a better way to organize my content to provide the users with their information in fewer clicks?”  We ask ourselves that question a bunch. I’ve done it in the pantry before. But never you mind that.

I tend to be a realist.  While Responsive Design is an excellent solution to a number of problems, and does have an excellent method of cross-platform content delivery, there are still a few applications where it lacks practicality, or the technology isn’t quite there yet.

However here we feel Responsive Design is part of the next proverbial ‘Coming Thing’ ( as Briscoe County Jr. wouid say ) and  it has a valid place on the ol’ ninja utility belt.

What do you think?  Is responsive design worth it?  Talk to us and tell us your thoughts!

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