Responsive web design
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Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).
A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries, an extension of the
- The fluid grid concept calls for page element sizing to be in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points.
- Flexible images are also sized in relative units, so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containing element.
- Media queries allow the page to use different CSS style rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on, most commonly the width of the browser.
- Server-side components (RESS) in conjunction with client-side ones such as media queries can produce faster-loading sites for access over cellular networks and also deliver richer functionality/usability avoiding some of the pitfalls of device-side-only solutions.
Progressive enhancement based on browser-, device-, or feature-detection
Challenges, and other approaches
Luke Wroblewski has summarized some of the RWD and mobile design challenges, and created a catalog of multi-device layout patterns. He suggests that, compared with a simple RWD approach, device experience or RESS (responsive web design with server-side components) approaches can provide a user experience that is better optimized for mobile devices. Server-side "dynamic CSS" implementation of stylesheet languages like Sass or Incentivated's MML can be part of such an approach by accessing a server based API which handles the device (typically mobile handset) differences in conjunction with a device capabilities database in order to improve usability. RESS is more expensive to develop, requiring more than just client-side logic, and so tends to be reserved for organisations with larger budgets.
Although this challenge has become recently a minor issue, with many of the publishers starting to support responsiveness, one still at least partly existing problem for RWD is that some banner advertisements and videos are not fluid. However search advertising and (banner) display advertising support specific device platform targeting and different advertisement size formats for desktop, smartphone, and basic mobile devices. Different landing page URLs can be used for different platforms, or Ajax can be used to display different advertisement variants on a page.
An alternative to RWD is the method of Adaptive Web Delivery or AWD that is adopted by consumer brands worldwide. Although it is very similar to Responsive Web Design, with adaptive delivery the most significant difference is that the server hosting the website detects the devices making requests to it, and uses this information to deliver different batches of HTML and CSS code based on the characteristics of the device that have been detected.
There are now many ways of validating and testing RWD designs, ranging from mobile site validators and mobile emulators to simultaneous testing tools like Adobe Edge Inspect. The Firefox browser and the Chrome console offer responsive design viewport resizing tools, as do third parties.
Ethan Marcotte coined the term responsive web design (RWD) in a May 2010 article in A List Apart. He described the theory and practice of responsive web design in his brief 2011 book titled Responsive Web Design. Responsive design was listed as #2 in Top Web Design Trends for 2012 by .net magazine after progressive enhancement at #1.
Forbes featured a piece, 'Why You Need To Prioritize Responsive Design Now'  where the importance was made clear that having a mobile version of your website isn’t enough anymore. Jody Resnick, President of Trighton Interactive stated in his interview with Forbes, “Responsive websites simplify internet marketing and SEO. Instead of having to develop and manage content for multiple websites, businesses with responsive sites can take a unified approach to content management because they have only the one responsive site to manage.
Resnick predicts, “As the internet transforms further into a platform of services and user interfaces that tie those services together, leveraging this technology in the future will allow companies to integrate a plethora of back-end services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce.com, and Amazon Web Services, and then present the integrated data back out the front-end iad layer on a responsive design so the application looks great on all devices without custom coding needed for each device or screen size."
With the proliferation of mobile and tablet users globally, the need for a responsive website is inevitable.
- Marcotte, Ethan (May 25, 2010). "Responsive Web design". A List Apart.
- "Ethan Marcotte's 20 favourite responsive sites". .net magazine. October 11, 2011.
- Gillenwater, Zoe Mickley (Dec 15, 2010). "Examples of flexible layouts with CSS3 media queries". Stunning CSS3. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-321-722133.
- Pettit, Nick (Aug 8, 2012). "Beginner’s Guide to Responsive Web Design". TeamTreehouse.com blog.
- Marcotte, Ethan (March 3, 2009). "Fluid Grids". A List Apart.
- Marcotte, Ethan (June 7, 2011). "Fluid images". A List Apart.
- "Adaptive Images".
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- "Responsive design—harnessing the power of media queries". Google Webmaster Central. Apr 30, 2012.
- W3C @media rule
- Wroblewski, Luke (November 3, 2009). "Mobile First".
- Firtman, Maximiliano (July 30, 2010). Programming the Mobile Web. p. 512. ISBN 978-0-596-80778-8.
- "Graceful degradation versus progressive enhancement". February 3, 2009.
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- Wroblewski, Luke (May 17, 2011). "Mobilism: jQuery Mobile".
- Wroblewski, Luke (February 6, 2012). "Rolling Up Our Responsive Sleeves".
- Wroblewski, Luke (March 14, 2012). "Multi-Device Layout Patterns".
- Wroblewski, Luke (February 29, 2012). "Responsive Design ... or RESS".
- Wroblewski, Luke (September 12, 2011). "RESS: Responsive Design + Server Side Components".
- Andersen, Anders (May 9, 2012). "Getting Started with RESS".
- "Responsive but not completely mobile optimised | Blog". Incentivated.
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- Google AdWords Targeting (Device Platform Targeting)
- Young, James (Aug 13, 2012). "Top responsive web design problems... testing". .net Magazine.
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- Rinaldi, Brian (September 26, 2012). "Browser testing... with Adobe Edge Inspect".
- Responsive Design View in Firefox
- Viewport resizer
- "15 top web design and development trends for 2012". .net magazine. January 9, 2012.
- Cashmore, Pete (Dec 11, 2012). "Why 2013 Is the Year of Responsive Web Design".
- Gunelius, Susan (March 13, 2013). "Why You Need To Prioritize Responsive Design Now".