How important is a Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is subject to trends, innovation, and experimentation. The environment is always evolving and these changes must be monitored. When using the mobile first approach the design begins with devices with small screens first then is expanded for larger screens. Mobile devices are used to browse the internet more than any other device. Since there are restrictions regarding content due to small screens the content of a brands message becomes critical.

The smallest screen is usually found on a smartphone and visibility is limited. Any content that is not absolutely necessary should be discarded. This has resulted in a significant increase in companies using the mobile first approach. Mobile design is ineffective if simply added as an afterthought to a design meant for a desktop computer.

Responsive web design is when flexible layouts and grids are combined with CSS media queries in the creation of a site meant to be displayed on devices of all different sizes. When combined with mobile first technology the design and look become responsive to the user. Responsive design gives businesses the ability to pay for just one site since the content works well with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.

Another important factor is the way Google is now ranking algorithms. Since they are now using the principle of mobile first any site not optimized for mobile technology will not be happy with their online rankings. There are tools available to test the mobile friendliness of a site. Google offers a Resizer tool that will allow a website to be displayed on screens of various sizes. This is an excellent way to determine the suitability of a site.

The behavior of the users has undergone drastic changes in last few years. Many users prefer mobile devices because they are easier to use. Any site not easy to view and navigate on a mobile site is not going to be successful. Statistics show 79 percent of all mobile device users will find a different site if their browsing is not optimized. This has to be a critical consideration of all brands.

In order to build a website that is responsive, reliable, and not incredibly time consuming there is a toolkit available from Zurb. The tool contains pre-built patterns for JavaScript, CSS, and HTML’s. This is instrumental in developers being able to quickly create a site that is extremely mobile-friendly. Experts see an upsurge in businesses switching to this approach so high search rankings can be achieved. Customers need to be happy with their experience.

One of the more recent breakthroughs for web design are rapid prototyping tools. These are necessary for any UX, UI, or web designer and have been gaining in popularity for almost a year. There are numerous services who make these tools available including Marvel, InVision, Webflow, and UXpin. These tools give designers the ability to use both high and low fidelity prototypes of assorted services and sites to determine their aesthetics and usability. Their popularity is attributed to the designer not having to write any code. Several of these services allow designing within the browser so the sight can be launched directly from the tool. This provides easy functionality and the look of the finished product can be seen from the browser. This prevents most set-backs and saves resources and time.

Clients are spared from looking at mockups and wire-frames and the ability to understand transition and animation is no longer required. The clients immediately see how the site will look and function effectively eliminating complicated presentations regarding transition speeds and the expected experience of the user. The codes generated allow developers instant implementation. Due to the wide variety of tools currently available and the number of businesses who already use them the number of designers becoming involved is expected to increase. Increasing efficiency and streamlining designs is important in regards to the success of a website.

Desktops have also been impacted by the new approaches being used for design as well as pre-designed themes. With the goal of providing users with the best experience many sites are showing similarities in their functionality and look. UX and UI patterns are becoming increasingly common in these sites. This is not to say all sites look the same but rather these sites are becoming more consistent with one another. The competition among brands is fierce and major risks are not an option. There are patterns known to be effective and enhance the quality of a site. Taking the time to examine existing UI patterns will help in the determination of various goals.

A wide variety of UI kits are available and use the best practices. They are easy to manipulate and style so design functionality already proved to be effective is easily attainable. The perfect example was in 2014 when Google launched a Material Design Language. A consistent experience was attained by the users with one set of guides and principles. The idea is the development of a system to create unification across all platforms regardless of the size of the device. A lot of these principles have been implemented by Google with the use of their apps. These principles have also been adopted by many brands to use on their sites. As more sites begin using UX and UI patterns the browsing experience will become more consistent.

The main priority is to keep users happy with a streamlined approach instead of gimmicks in the design. As the market continues to become more competitive this point gains in importance. Another factor in the happiness of the users are illustrations. This medium is versatile and capable of making a site friendly and fun. Illustrations can be tailored to reflect the personality of the brand. In a crowded marketplace the tone of the site can make a big difference in the satisfaction of the users. Illustrations that are unique can enable a brand to make this a part of their identity. This is very effective for images in large headers, animated visuals, and customized iconography.