Responsive web design is a method of creating a website that responds and adapts to the context in which the customer is interacting with it. The size, orientation, resolution, and other capabilities of the device being used determines how the website will be displayed and how it will function. Long gone are the days when websites were primarily viewed on a desktop monitor. New phones, tablets, game consoles, smart televisions and more are being introduced to the market at a fast pace, and all of them are potential entryways for your customers to interact with your website. Responsive web design offers a way to support all of these different devices with one codebase.
While responsive web design does take longer to develop and has a higher initial cost, it saves you money in the long term by removing the need to support multiple separate versions of your site. Lets say you have invested in an iPad version of your site. It works well and looks great on the iPad because it was specifically designed with the iPad form factor and resolution in mind, but what happens when Apple changes the screen dimensions drastically as they have for the iPad Mini? You are faced with the need to pay for new design and development to ensure that your site represents your business professionally and is still easy to use on the smaller screen. Of course, when the new hot tablet from Samsung comes out six months later, youll have to decide whether to support those customers as well.
The responsive design philosophy is to take into account the full range of device form factors, and to design and code all aspects of your site to function well at any point within that range. This means that ongoing maintenance is less time consuming because there is one base of code to work on. Any content edits only need to be made in one place and are immediately available to all devices and all customers. When new devices come to market, your site either already works well on them or requires a lot less effort to support the new devices than a dedicated mobile site would.
Responsive design takes the advantages that you gain from designing custom experiences for users of specific devices and expands them to benefit everyone.