Analogy: Responsive Web Design

  • Sep. 12, 2013

I assume most web professionals have heard everything there is to know about Responsive Web Design (RWD), but for clients, or anyone else outside the industry interested in learning more, I decided to create a quick analogy to help those of you understand what the term Responsive Web Design means.

Frequently when meeting with a new client I’ll get a confused eye just by the mere mention of RWD, so to put it into perspective let’s look at this from the viewpoint of a homeowner. Let’s assume you’re planning an awesome kitchen remodel. You tell your architect you have 500 sq. ft. to work with, and that you want all the latest built-in gadgets. Then you explain that your kitchen must be designed to shrink from 500 sq. ft., to 200 sq. ft., or expand up to 1,000 sq. ft. on demand without loosing aesthetic or functionality – my guess is you’d likely be instructed find another architect. Now I know Responsive Architecture is a real thing, but my analogy is simply an attempt to explain how responsive design works in the virtual space.

The idea is to embrace the flexibility, and unpredictability of internet browsers and throw away fixed widths; design once, then display everywhere. With the constant evolution of smart devices like mobile phones, tablets, and TV’s, designers today must cater to the rapid growth of these new devices and turn to RWD as the answer. This process adds a deeper level of complexity to our work bringing along with it new creative, and technical challenges that designers didn’t have just five years ago. Personally, these new challenges excite me, reading and learning about the different techniques, and scanning the web for creative breaking points has become a frequent inspirational endeavor of mine. I think you’ll agree, once you understand the concept you’ll start to look at web sites in a new way to see how they react in different settings.

If you’re interested in learning more, or seeing what responsive design looks like, below are just a few links you might find helpful. If you’re planning a web site project and you’d like to discuss how responsive design can help your business, please get in touch.

MWH Design is a small design studio in upstate NY lead by owner / designer, Mike Hosier. Mike works with local and national small businesses, and organizations developing effective web media solutions.


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