Google has officially recommended Responsive Web Design as their preferred method for building mobile websites. If you have a website or a blog, it is time to consider switching to responsive design instead of maintaining separate mobile- and tablet-friendly websites.

If you are new to the concept of Responsive Web Design (RWD), here are the common questions that you may have around this technique.

Why should I switch my website to RWD?

Your website looks great of the desktop screen but it may not be true when your site is viewed on a smartphone or a tablet. Once you make the design responsive, the website will look good (and readable) on all screens.

With Responsive Design you can create one design and it will automatically adapt itself based on the screen size of the mobile device. This approach offers plenty of advantages:

  • It saves time and money as you don’t have to maintain separate websites for desktops and mobile phones.
  • Responsive Design is good for your website’s SEO (search rankings) as every page on your site will have a single URL and thus Google juice is preserved. You don’t have to worry about situations where some sites link to your mobile site while others link to your desktop site.
  • Your Google Analytics reports will paint a better picture of your site’s usage since the data from mobile and desktop users will be consolidated.
  • The same will be true for the social sharing stats (Facebook Likes, Tweets, +1’s) since the mobile and desktop versions of your web pages will have the same URL.
  • Responsive Designs are easier to maintain as they do not involve any server-side components. You just have to modify the underlying CSS of a page to change its appearance (or layout) on a particular device.

 

What should I know to get started with Responsive Design?

Responsive Design is pure HTML and CSS. You create rules in CSS that change style based on the screen size of the user’s device.

For example, you can write a rule that says if a user’s screen-size is less than 320 pixels, don’t show the sidebar or if the screen size is greater than 1920 pixels (widescreen desktop), increase the font size of the body text to 15px.

How do I check if particular website is using Responsive Design?

That’s easy. Open that website in any desktop browser and resize the browser. If the site’s layout changes as you resize, the design is responsive.

If I go with the Responsive Design approach, will my website work with older browsers?

Mostly yes. RWD uses CSS3 media-queries and HTML5 (for better semantics) that are not supported in older versions of IE. However, there are JavaScript based solutions — respond.js and modernize for example — that bring the power of CSS3 and HTML5 to older browsers including IE6.

Does Responsive Design play nicely with advertising networks like Google AdSense?

If you using ads on your website, you should carefully choose the formats because wide units (like the 728×60 pixel leaderboard) may not fit on a 320px mobile screen. I prefer using standard rectangular units (like 300×250) since they easily fit on smartphone screens and widescreen desktops.

There are thousands of mobile devices. What screen resolutions should my responsive website support?

I would recommend setting break points for at least the following viewports in your CSS3 Mediaqueries — 320px (iPhone landscape), 480 px (iPhone portrait), 600px (Android Tablets), 768px (iPad + ~Galaxy Tabs) and 1024px (iPad landscape and desktops).

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