What is responsive design? Why it is important to incorporate it in every design, and how do you apply its core principles to your web design process efficiently? The emerging practice of responsive design aims to meet the increasing demands of new devices as well as the challenges of tailoring web content for each of them. It has well surpassed being labeled as a trend and is highly regarded as the future of good user experience design. In its current state, it remains a coveted asset to those who can afford the time and resources, but it doesn't have to be that way. Still, preparing for the ebb and flow of responsive design can be costly.
Why it is important
Designers are now faced with the hefty challenge of imagining how content will lock up and reflow when forced into different sized containers than the one in front of them. They need the right tools and dialog to prevent broken layouts and preserve the best possible experience at any width. Users with no background in choreographing content are seeing the lack of it show up on their devices -- things such as overwhelming scroll bars, lighboxes in mobile showing the exact same size images, and buttons that cannot be touched with an average sized pointer finger without zooming in. It is important that your users be served the best experience possible at any screen size or resolution.
The bare necessities approach
Consider a conservative approach when deciding how your designs are going to span across devices and scale, and only do the bare necessities. The practice of responsive design is gaining rapid momentum, and the current discussions are wide and vast. There is much chatter and many different opinions on technique and how to solve challenges. As the discussion continues to grow, new techniques -- and the associated risks involved -- will continually emerge. One risk is that every device requires research, design, development, testing, and re-iteration -- easily consuming your resources. Your developer, who by the way would probably rather be working on developing richly creative interactive interfaces, might not even have access to those same devices in order to do accurate testing. You can get a lot of value by approaching your responsive design strategy from incorporating the bare necessities. In order to work smarter and not harder, there are two basic strategies to configure web content into a seamless web experience across devices in an economically viable way. With a good developer and utilizing some of these basic responsive design techniques, responsive design can not only be cost and time effective, but relatively simple to come back and make it even more responsive in the future.