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Responsive web design: device specific adaptation

by Pamela Gay , 14.09.2012

This article is re-posted from SirValUse blog.

The number of mobile and stationary devices connected to the internet is growing steadily and so is the importance of responsive web design. With responsive web design, websites will adapt automatically to the width and height of the screen on which they are displayed. In order to design a website which is able to respond properly to various formats of smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs, the developers have to consider user experience (UX) aspects from the beginning of the development process.

A website that is built with the responsive web design technique is shown on each device in the correct size and proportion – responsive web design considers the different requirements of the devices during the development of the site. Therefore, a website might look different on a tablet or smartphone than it does on a desktop PC, because it will be automatically displayed in a different format. Content and basic functions like the navigation bar, pictures and text will be displayed according to the size of the device screen.

UX testing on prototypes in early stages of the product development is critical to providing an engaging experience on the plethora of devices on which the website may be accessed. One way of executing user research in these early stages is with qualitative interviews with users or potential users of the product. User research enables designers and developers to identify whether their product is easy to understand and use.

It is also extremely important to check the font size, color and line length in a user test in order to verify the readability and structure of the site. User habits, such as when and how the site is accessed, are also considered when designing for various devices.

Overall, responsive web design can be used for apps and websites if there is only be one technical platform for all devices. This provides entirely new challenges for designers and developers that can be addressed when user research is engaged very early in the development process.

There are websites that help designers by showing examples of responsive web design, as well as, discusses principles of multi-screen design and responsive web design.

Sign up for GfK’s latest webinar, UX Design in the Post-Mobile World: Adaptive, Responsive, and Mobile-first Design