What is Responsive Website Design?

Website design has always been an important aspect of building a positive online presence. Users now use mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, for a majority of their internet usage and website owners had to start thinking differently. Websites could no longer rely on old design standards and techniques for displaying the website in a 800 by 600 pixel or 1028 by 768 pixel screen. Without a solution, these traditional website designs provide a bad user experience with too much scrolling, pinching, and zooming. This is where responsive website design becomes essential.

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive website design is the concept of developing your website to automatically detect the user’s device and tailor the website to meet the specifications of that device. This technology allows programmers to change the layout of the page between devices, shrink down content and even rearrange the items on the page so they are readable on the screens. The first solution that came about when mobile started to gain traction was to completely rebuild a website to smaller standards. This becomes tedious as webmasters and businesses need to manage two sets of pages. The difference with responsive web design, is that it only requires designing one website, or one set of pages. It’s the content that changes, not the file name or directory.

Why Is It Effective?

Responsive website design has many advantages. First off is the cost savings, because the site only needs to be maintained in one place.  Although there will be variations, the website also only needs to be design once. The website can then be changed by CSS style tags that detect when to trigger. If the website is on an iPhone or Tablet, different CSS style tags will render the website to those display dimensions. If done properly, the website even has the ability to detect whether it is rendered in portrait or landscape mode.

When visitors are browsing a website, they want it to be easy to use. If they are using a mobile device, visitors need to easily navigate between pages, access the areas they desire and read what is on the page without much effort. Responsive website design offers the opportunity to provide this ease of use for all users, regardless of which device they are using the access the Internet.

Responsive Design Is Essential for SEO

The search engines understand how important mobile devices are to their user base. They know exactly how many users are accessing the internet through mobile devices. If they see a mobile device, the can even tailor their results to the sites that give the best user experience. Users returning to the search engine after clicking a website is called a “bounce.” If the search engines see a large number of bounces, they assume (probably correctly) that your website is not right for that search query. The website can quickly lose rankings because of it. The good news is the opposite is also true. If they see a small amount of people returning, a low bounce rate, the website’s rankings could benefit. In addition, you will avoid the possibility of duplicate content. If you run both a traditional website and a mobile site, you run the risk of being flagged for duplicate content.


If you are hoping to reach the largest possible audience with a website, responsive website design offers great potential. The number of people who access the internet via mobile devices is quickly growing. When you use responsive design, you will gain all the advantages of your desktop website without the hassle of a mobile site and the potential issues that can occur. You run one website with all the advantages of both types of sites.