Responsive Web Design: Here's What Web Developers Need To Know About This Popular Term

The term, responsive web design (RWD) is a well-known moniker used on the Web development world to define how the many elements of web pages (images, menus, buttons, text) configure to different screens using something called CSS (cascading style sheets). The combination of CSS -- especially the newest version, CSS(3) -- and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) are essential parts of the tool-set for developing responsive-designed web pages.

There are many pros to using responsive design techniques like how images can adapt to different screen sizes efficiently and SEO benefits like a higher page ranking in search engines like Google; one could argue that the cons -- however few -- still exist and should always be addressed.

Why is SEO Better With RWD?

SEO is better for responsive web design because of usability, which makes a website and its elements fit different types of screens. Thus, visitors who read and navigate your responsive designed website will keep coming back based on the ease of use, navigation, etc. Google's algorithms are also more likely to favour websites that are optimised for iPhones and also Android devices using RWD techniques. The more user-friendly the website is for smartphone and mobile device users, the better.

What Does Mr Ethan Marcotte Have to Do With RWD?

Mr Ethan Marcotte, in his groundbreaking 2011 book, Responsive Web Design, came up with the term, responsive web design (RWD). Mr Marcotte explained the term of RWD to include images (GIFs, PNGs, JPG) that are flexible for different screen sizes, the use of a fluid grid, and media queries. Marcotte explained the idea behind the use of RWD in a 2010 article he wrote for A List Apart. Media queries are an essential part of RWD because specific CSS code detects different browsers that are viewing web pages at different sizes.

What Are Some Downsides of RWD?

For those e-commerce sites that have been built with RWD in mind, it may not lead to an easy sale. There are misconceptions that just because the trend is toward more mobile device used to surf the web does not always equate to the consumer buying your goods online. That is why there are many things to consider based on what the reason is for building one's website in the first place. There is also the issue of stacking content when considering developing one's homepage using RWD methods.

When users view an RWD site on a mobile device or a smartphone, the images are stacked in order based on the objective of the website owner and the web developer who writes the code to allow this design to be implemented. For web developers who are building websites that focus on just blogs with ads built into the site, having a stacked design with the newest images and blog content posted displaying at the top of the website makes sense based on the fact that it is the freshest content.

However, for those users who have to scroll up and down the page, sifting through images of products to review them or purchase a product on an e-commerce site, it is wise as a web developer to make sure that there is attention given to load times. And there should also be attention given to those images of hot sales items that deserve to be at the top of the page. Web developers have to keep these essential things in mind before sitting down to code a new e-commerce site.

RWD or Responsive Web Design is necessary for web developers to be aware of and also adopt as part of their modernisation of website pages based on the plethora of SEO benefits and minimal downsides.

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