The time for designing web sites around the single-minded idea that users will only ever be visiting your site on desktops and laptops is over. Web design now thrives around this idea of RWD – or Responsive Web Design. What it means is simple: a website is built around the fact that people not only go online on their desktops but also on their phones, tablets, and even gaming consoles. What RWD does is detect the device a user is on and morphs the website to accommodate said device.
The Year Of RWD
Mashable called 2013 the year of Responsive Web Design, and for a good reason. Websites aren’t only required to work on desktops and laptops any more, when virtually every person holds a smartphone in their hands. On a desktop the site will appear large, columns expanding to show more content and text popping up for a more at-a-glance approach. Load up the same site on your phone and the site shrinks to maybe one column, but with the same information as before. Mashable even mentions how their site is able of detecting the type of device you work on (touch screen, like most smartphones, for example) and allow you to swipe between columns of a website. It’s just the kind of smart, adaptable trend that will be abundant not only in 2013 but in the years to come.
Designing Isn’t Just for Desktops Anymore
Perhaps the most important aspect to remember about the future of professional web design is the fact that it is happening right now. Two years ago there wasn’t a browser for your Xbox, and five years ago we were just getting Safari on our phones. Web Designer Laura Kalbag thinks there will be an “abandoning of device-specific web design.” And that is paramount to a modern web site. Building a website around the assumption that it will only be visited on a traditional computer is backwards thinking in 2013. Think about mobile phones, gaming consoles, and most importantly, tablets. By limiting yourself to only one of these outlets – desktops and laptops – you cut hits to your website in more than half.
The Tools Of RWD
There are hundreds of specific tools that a web designer can use in responsive web design. One of these is called Bootstrap, designed by two men from Twitter meant to provide solutions to common interface tasks developers face in web design. It’s highly customizable and described as a “sleek, intuitive, and powerful front-end framework for faster and easier web development.” There’s also FitText, which helps scale text as it is viewed on different platforms, Gridset that acts as the skeletal backbone of these RWD sites, and one for pictures called Adaptive Images, which does for photos what FitText does for text. All of these tools (and the countless others not mentioned) work in tandem with one another to fuel these RWD projects, and end up creating some of the most forward-thinking websites found online today.