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Responsive web design

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Almost every new client these days wants a mobile version of their website. It’s practically essential after all: one design for the BlackBerry, another for the iPhone, the iPad, netbook, Kindle — and all screen resolutions must be compatible, too. In the next five years, we’ll likely need to design for a number of additional inventions. When will the madness stop? It won’t, of course.

Responsive Web design is the practice that consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.

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More often than not, the mobile experience for a Web application or site is designed and built after the PC version is complete. Here are good reasons why Web applications should be designed for mobile first instead.

Over half of Android and iPhone users spend more than 30 minutes per day using mobile applications. Building mobile first ensures companies have an experience available to this extremely fast growing user base widely considered to be the next big computing platform.

Mobile devices require software development teams to focus on only the most important data and actions in an application. There simply isn’t room in a mobile screen for extraneous, unnecessary elements. You have to prioritize. That’s good user experience and good for business.

New mobile application platforms are introducing exciting capabilities that leave many PC-based Web browsers behind. Consider some of the capabilities offered to developers on Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android platforms: precise location information from GPS; user orientation from a digital compass; multi-touch input from one or more simultaneous gestures; device positioning from an accelerometer; and many more.
Building mobile first allows teams to utilize this full palette of capabilities to create rich context-aware applications instead of limiting themselves to an increasingly dated set of capabilities.

Ilya Pavlov

Ilya Pavlov

Creative director, web designer, developer and founder of Fruitful Code.