Posted 26th June 2012 | By Peter Voss, Account Manager

“Does my bum look big in this?”

Well, if your bum happens to be an image on your website then, the honest answer is… “that depends on what sort of device I’m viewing it on!” If you’ve designed your website to display images perfectly on a laptop screen, but allow these images to scale to fit the screen that somebody is viewing it on then… on a smartphone your bum will appear positively anorexic, but on a wide-screen TV it will be the half the size of Belgium!

Images are the most obvious parts of your website that can be distorted when they scale to fit the viewing platform, but the same can also happen to text, menus and tiles; all of which can make your website unwieldy, difficult to navigate and seriously distort your beautiful design. However, there is an answer to this, and it’s called ‘responsive design’.

Responsive design is, in effect, a way in which your website determines what platform (smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, wide-screen TV etc.) it is being viewed on and then displays your website in the best format for that platform. This is not achieved by just squashing or expanding your website to fit, but by altering the design to best fit that platform. Repositioning the elements that make up your website to ensure that it not only displays perfectly on that platform, but also that the most important parts are still visible ‘above the fold’.

Lets have a look at the new ExtraMile Communications website to see what we mean…

Most websites are designed to be viewed on a browser on a laptop and so our site looks like this…

Extramile desktop view

Without responsive design viewing this on a smartphone would mean that, either it would be squeezed into the screen (rendering it so small as to be illegible) or only the top left corner would display, meaning that you would need to scroll, and scroll, and scroll across the screen to view anything. However, with responsive design, on an iPhone, it looks like this…

Extramile mobile view

In both cases you can see that the menu is still prominent and the main image is displaying perfectly on both platforms.

All very pretty, I hear you say, but “Why is this important?” Well, the bottom line is that people’s browsing habits are changing. The BBC estimates that 26% of people viewing their news website now view it on mobile or tablet devices. If you consider that the smartphone ‘revolution’ really gathered pace in 2007 and that tablets only started their onward march in 2010 – then effectively, mobile device viewing of the BBC has gone from zero to just over a quarter in a little over 5 years.

By moving to a responsive website we believe that our new site is keeping pace with people’s ever changing browsing habits – rendering it as we want it to be seen on all platforms. It has also saved us the time and expense of developing and maintaining a website specifically for mobile devices. If you want to see how we can help you achieve the same, get in touch.

Peter from ExtraMile Communications Ltd in Eccleshall, Staffordshire.

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