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Responsive web design

9th Jun 2015

By Fanatic

graphic_web_design_bristolA very current topic is responsive web design. No website design project goes by without lengthy discussions about responsive versions, and during 2015 has so far been the reason clients have been discussing an updated website design.

This means we are explaining over and again all about responsive, so we thought we would write some of the common discussion items down as a blog post.

Overview – how we got here

Firstly is a comment on how welcome the responsive movement has been for website designers and builders who have been involved for many years in web design. If you learned web design and HTML building especially in the late 1990’s, then you had to use table based HTML, with inline styles, and any number of ridged hacks to make a page lay out how you wanted. Shim images galore, and pulling your hair out increasingly complex nested tables, it was not very creative, and you ended up with a page which looked OK on one browser – Netscape! but rubbish on IE. It is no wonder that in the early 2000’s, Flash took the web design world by storm, and with a bit of javascript, we were taking over the browser with the full screen website. Of course Flash made the coding more difficult, hid things from search engines, relied on plugins… which version… then the shockwave plugin for Director… urgh… the word Multi Media, when sat in context of ‘the more media used the more technical difficulties encountered’!

There was also the coming and going of WAP, the first generation of mobile internet, without touch screens. Slow devices, small screens, no 3G or wifi, and to my point every browser different to build for. It was too early for the devices and for connectivity, but it fun to remember it in context of the current mobiles.

Then the breath of fresh air that was CSS came along. The W3C standards and accessibility as a concept in web design became as much or even more of a focus than aesthetics, and from then things have moved in a better direction.

It has taken many years since then, and the creation of google chrome, the development of firefox, Safari, and the reliance on internet explorer to disappear that we now are able to use much more advanced HTML, and far more sophisticated CSS.

Where we are now

Levys_website_homepage_responsive_fanatic_graphic_web_design_bristolThings are very different now, and although it seems that technology is moving quickly, what web designers have to deal with has become a lot more standard. There seems to be a winning approach, and one which is based on the ethos that you should ‘build it right’, and the browser and devise makers should make devices that ‘show it right’.

It is the mobiles, and perhaps even more importantly the invention of the tablets which has meant that website builders really need one central approach which works on all devises, and that can respond automatically based on screen size to show what is crucially a modified design and layout, a version of, not one that we would refer to as a different design.

Actually the code begins as if it is on a mobile, on detecting a larger screen it will use the space, and load in more complex graphics, and where relevant will load plugins and video, responding all the time to the screen size and device it is on.


The result is that the visitor is presented with all they need, on whatever screen they choose to use, and will not be frustrated by buttons that are too small, or parts of the website hanging off the side. The layout ‘flows’ into the space it has.


Early in 2015, Google also brought in a change to begin giving websites with correctly laid out mobile versions a priority in search positions over websites without a mobile version to googlers on mobiles.

So how important are mobile browsers? Well a headline statistic, and one you can read a lot about by googling the subject is that mobiles are now used more than desktops. You can even take out facebook and other social platforms, and the ‘quick check of Wikipedia’ to fact trump a mate, and mobiles still account for more than desktop browsing, but…

As with SEO and your whole marketing plan for that matter, the thing that really counts is understanding your target customer. For example a lot of our clients are B2B marketing clients, who’s customers are at their office desks when requiring out clients’ websites. Even then the combined analytics of many client sites we can see the split is now 50:50, but rising.


If you would like to discuss your website design, please contact us.

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