A rising trend in web design recently is building sites that are “responsive”. This is a way of creating your site so that it looks good on any kind of screen, from a full desktop down to a smartphone. The alternative, which thousands of sites use, is to create a separate “mobile version” for those visitors. There can be some advantages to building a separate mobile version of your site, but a responsive design seems like it is a better solution in the majority of cases.
The biggest problem with special mobile versions of sites is determining when it should be used. On a 3.7″ iPhone? Sure. How about a 4.6″ phone? How about a 7″ tablet? 10″ tablet? It gets quite messy. Responsive sites will show as much information as they can reasonably fit on the screen, no matter what kind of device you are using.
Here’s a quick look at how it works (via a brighter web):
While converting an existing site to become responsive can be a significant challenge, it’s remarkably easy to build a new site that is responsive from day one — especially if you use WordPress. I use StudioPress for many of the sites I build, and they’re rolling out more and more responsive themes as time goes on. They already have 11 different responsive themes, including the one that this blog is using (“Focus“). Simply install the theme, add your content, and it’ll automatically take care of optimizing the display of the site for every visitor.
You might also find that it increases your traffic. Rob Cubbon recently shared some stats from his blog after making the switch to a responsive theme, and the increase was quite impressive. I just switched the theme on this blog here yesterday, so it’ll be a little while before I can measure any kind of difference. I’ll be sure to post again if I see similar results to Rob.
Another good resource for learning about responsive design comes to use from ReadWriteWeb, which has a great article about the process that the Boston Globe went through to make their site responsive.
Is your site responsive yet? Do you plan to convert it over in the near future? Or do you think reponsiveness is simply a fad that will go away in a few years?