What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive DesignWith the increased use of mobile devices, including tablets and smart phones, gone are the days when you can afford to design Web sites for only desktop browsers. The new Davidson Web site will feature a responsive design, which as the name implies, is a method of Web development where the design of a site adjusts or is optimized to the screen size or platform on which it is displayed. So what you see when viewing on a tablet or smart phone may appear slightly different from what you might see on a desktop computer. The written content generally appears the same across all devices.

Responsive Web design, as the name implies, is a style of Web development where content responds to the device on which it is being rendered. So, while a Web site viewed from within a traditional desktop browser might be rendered one way, a tablet or smartphone browser will be smart enough to render that same code in a different way—one that takes into account the size and resolution of a smaller screen. Text is reflowed, navigation is simplified, and images are shrunk, or even hidden entirely, and the code to do it all needs only be written once. — Matthew Braga, Ars Technica - May 17, 2012

Going the responsive design route means additional hours will need to be dedicated to wireframing various Web views for desktop, tablet and mobile screen sizes. It will also require additional design iterations for each. We believe the extra time required at the front end will pay dividends down the road as Web visitors will be presented with a more optimized Web experience on tablets and mobile phones.

We will post the responsive designs for tablet and mobile once they are finalized.

Additional Information on Responsive Design

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Doug MinorDoug Minor is director of digital communications at Davidson College.View all posts by Doug Minor →

  1. DesignToads
    DesignToads08-30-2012

    Do you think we’ll see companies like Coke or Nike begin to build responsive websites and move away from a standard and a mobile site? Or do you think this way of building sites won’t catch on with the big names?

  2. One Pixel Media
    One Pixel Media01-02-2013

    I like that more companies are turning to responsive designs. It makes everything more cohesive and more user-friendly. If they know where something is located on the desktop version of a website, they’ll be able to find it on their smart phone as well.