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What is Responsive Web Design and Why do I Need It?

What is Responsive Web Design?

Not too long ago you could get your web design team to create a desktop and a mobile version of your site and be done with it. Those days are gone: we’re surrounded by mobile devices of all shapes and sizes, and it’s impossible for your mobile site to serve your content in the best way on one device without cannibalizing another.

Enter responsive web design. It gets its name from how it works: the design of the site itself responds to the screen size, platform, and orientation of your visitor automatically without the need for an individually customized website for every possible combination.

What does responsive web design mean?

At its core, responsive web design involves a flexible grid and layout. The website is planned and programmed to adjust the display of the columns in the grid depending on the website visitor’s device size. Images are carefully selected and optimized to remain usable and clear on both desktop and mobile while taking the least amount of memory possible.

The result is that the full design of the desktop remains mostly intact on smaller mobile screens, just adjusted and optimized. This is a richer experience for your mobile user, an increasingly important demographic. They no longer need to use a less-functional mobile version of your website.

Could you give me an example?

Imagery is one way responsive web design works well. In early mobile design, images were often merely resized to fit on the smaller screen. That can cause a variety of issues including increased load time, clarity, and readability. While resizing might work in some cases, a responsive web site may substitute the full image with a smaller one or move the image so that it is still clear and loads quicker.

Other web page elements, like menus, fonts, or buttons, are also adjusted to fit the size of the device’s viewing window. A page that has multiple columns on a desktop computer may show up as two columns on a tablet and a single column on a phone. There is quite a bit of fine-tuning done by your web designer to make sure that your website looks and functions equally well on all devices.

Are you are curious about how a responsive website works? You can check it out right now by adjusting the width of your desktop browser window and watch our website “respond” to the changing browser size. Compare it to this non-responsive website example at

Why do I want a responsive website?

Because your web users need it — but more importantly, because Google is requiring it. In late 2016, mobile web usage made up the majority of web traffic worldwide for the first time in history, according to StatCounter. Google noticed and responded (pun intended) to the increased popularity of mobile users. They decided to adjust their website ranking algorithm by placing increased importance on how mobile friendly a website is. In 2015, Google began penalizing non-mobile-friendly websites in search engine results. One of the most important, and highly recommended, ways to make your website mobile-friendly is to make it responsive.

According to Google, people are 5 times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly. If your website is not mobile-friendly, your website visitors will experience a sub-optimal experience and probably won’t stay on your website or visit it again. Your website will also suffer from less website traffic due to a lower position in Google and other search engines. That’s where we come in.

Since 2014 (before Google’s penalization was enforced) ddZ instituted a standard of only building responsive web sites in all of our projects. We want to ensure that all of our clients are set up for future success by following Google’s most current guidelines, as well as looking at the future of web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Contact us today to find out how we can put responsive web design to work for you, and allow us to build a website that provides your company a dynamic web presence that looks good in any browser and on any screen.