Responsive Web Design

contact_page_mobile_iphone320croppedOne of the most common questions I get nowadays is, “Do you know responsive design?”

(For those who are not familiar with responsive design, it is the notion that websites will be viewed on various devices. Gone are the days of browsing the web from a home computer with a minimum resolution of 1024 × 768 pixels.)

Having been around since the early days of the internet, when CRT monitors (remember those?) might only be 14″ diagonal, and screen real estate was at a premium (640 × 480, or if you were lucky, 800 × 600), I was always mindful of how the most important information on a website needed to be “above the scroll” as I called it, and good, thoughtful design ensured that a user would never need to scroll horizontally.

Internet browsing now can occur on a screen as small as 320 × 480 (an iPhone 3G ), on a tablet with a resolution comparable to that of desktops 10–15 years ago, 1280 × 800 (a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4), all the way up to 1600 × 1200 or higher, depending on a monitor’s settings.

As a graphic and web designer, I understand the fundamentals of responsive web design. (At right is a contact form that I designed for an iPhone screen width of 320 pixels. The other versions can be seen in the scrolling image above.) I can design a website that will look good in multiple resolutions. That being said, I am not a developer. I can get into the code and add things and move things around, per a client’s request. However, sometimes this leads to undesirable results on a smaller screen. Sometimes the client is fine with the less-than-perfect results. (For freelance clients, this is especially true.)

Thanks to an abundance of CMS themes available (for free, or for purchase), it is common for me to start with a theme, and then populate and modify it as needed. All themes that I use are responsive. As a self-proclaimed geek, who has had a smart phone since 2007, looking good in multiple formats is very important to me, as well as an increasing share of the population.

 

When on a team, I often have access to a hard-core coder/developer. He/she is the person who most often can figure out the glitches of responsive web design, and why a particular element might show up in weird ways. Only then can I provide a flawless website to a client.

So, to answer the question, “Do you know responsive design?” my answer is, from a graphic design perspective, absolutely. Wireframes, Bootstrap, all of that good stuff. From a development perspective, I’m learning more everyday. But I am not a developer, and have no desire to be one. I cannot create a WordPress theme from scratch, but am happy to research and find a fantastic theme, and then go to town modifying it to make my client happy. Bonus points if the client has the budget to hire a developer as well to handle the things that stump me. (I know a lot but in an ever-changing technological world, I don’t, and can’t know everything.)

The websites listed above are warwickdowning.com (a Denver-based author’s website, 2014), fastlineperformanceco.com (a powersports shop, still under construction, awaiting content from the owner, 2014), and mapleirrigation.com (a website redesign for a client in Virginia, 2014). I designed and built all of these sites. Each is responsive, and uses a different WordPress theme.

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