Responsive Design – lets put it simply is the techniques implemented into your site to produce an output that is suitable to the viewing device.
I remember when I got my first WAP enabled device, first thing I did was log on to www.101webtech.com to see how my site was viewing on the device and it was pretty good, a little small however the layout didn’t break and you could navigate and squint to read the text. Other sites were not so lucky. Well thats if luck had anything to do with it, I was coding standard compliant accessible websites and this is what I brought into 101 Web Technology’s website and it worked. So call it luck I call it do the right thing first and you are half way there.
Anyways fast forward a number of years and I reach for my iPhone and fire up a website. I am no longer satisfied with it viewing OK, I want a tailor solution to maximise screen real estate and create a user experience that matches the intended device. That is where responsive design comes into play. There are some great websites that implement a responsive layout is Responsive Design, Responsively Illustrated (http://www.thismanslife.co.uk/projects/lab/responsiveillustration/)
To demonstrate the functionality I open the website in the browser (ensure its minimised) and drag the bottom right corner of the window to scale through devices and available screen real estate. People soon get the idea of how powerful a responsive design is to their client base.
I came across this demo, while I was looking for an example of responsive design to show a client, who had a website which hadn’t been touched in a number of years and their visitor logs where telling me over 40% of their website traffic was on a mobile device (smartphone/tablet of various flavours). After showing them the eye opening stats and this demo, they were onboard to include mobile as part of their online strategy.
We can bury our heads in the sand when it comes to mobile devices coming to our websites, people are using them and are expecting a responsive website to greet them. They may not know what the term is, nor should they care. They just know that your competitors site works better on the mobile device, so they will just go over there.