Responsive Web Design: Reaching the Mobile World

Responsive Web Design: Reaching the Mobile World

Over the past few years, the term “responsive web design” has grown into one of the most popular subjects in the online marketing world. Responsive web design, or RWD, allows a single website to “respond” and adapt to the screen it is being viewed from. Whether you are attempting to create the best ecommerce platform, most-effective multilingual website design or have another goal, RWD holds the key to your potential success.

Understanding How Responsive Web Design Works

Most experts attribute the idea of responsive web design to a legendary web designer named Ethan Marcotte. In 2011, Marcotte released an article titled “Responsive Web Design.” This article discussed a fairly simple theory relating to how webpages could use CSS media queries to adjust feature sizes, shapes and locations according to the size of each viewer’s screen. Since standard web design revolved around a single 800-pixel page design, it is no surprise that Marcotte’s article gained enormous interest.

If someone took the standard square web design and separated it into four elements, they could be displayed in a simple 2-by-2 grid like the one below.



While that square format works great with a perfectly square screen, what happens when someone views that standard design from a wide-screen television?



The wide-screen viewer ends up seeing either a lot of unappealing empty space on each side of the design or only a portion of the design due to zooming. With responsive web design, the viewer sees something more like this:



Depending on the screen resolution, there may be some empty space on top and bottom, but this provides a much better option than the standard square design. On most cell phones, this same design would adapt to look like this:



In practice, RWD is much more sophisticated than in these examples. Unessential elements, design features, and advertisements can actually be removed when space becomes more valuable on a smaller, more rectangular screen. By allowing all necessary content to be shown in a clean and readable format, RWD offers an excellent experience independent of the device the user views it on.


When professionally implemented, responsive web design goes above and beyond the user experience. It actually saves hours of time on maintenance and content creation, but most importantly, it also improves a site’s SEO. All of the major search engines, including Google, put a high value on a metric called “bounce rate.” This metric measures the portion of viewers that visit your webpage only to leave after a few seconds. Multiple studies have proven that users avoid standard web designs when viewing them on a mobile device, and with more and more people using their mobile devices to surf the web, the importance of RWD is only increasing when it comes to “bounce rate.”

In fact, Google officially recommends responsive web design as a best practice in the web design industry. RWD makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and organize content. It also helps to eliminate errors when sharing and linking content across the web, an ability the search engines love!

All of the best ecommerce platforms, media-focused sites, multilingual website designs and other web page types use responsive web design to enhance the user experience. RWD has become the standard in the future of web design.