Not so long ago, companies and institutions handled mobile web traffic by designing and maintaining two sites — a desktop version and a mobile version. Even though the mobile version was often a pared-down, text-focused version of the full site, maintaining two sites wasn’t easy, but this mostly worked because there were two standard sizes — a desktop one and a mobile one.
And then the iPad happened and then the Kindle Fire happened, then several iPhones, the Samsung Galaxy, the iPad mini, the Tmobile myTouch, the Motorola Droid, the nabi Jr. (for the toddler set), and so on.
There are currently over 140 different screen resolutions. A web team of 50 would have a hard time maintaining sites that render properly on all of them.
Since September 1, mobile traffic has accounted for 23% of the visits to the Fordham website, up from 14% for the same period last year. Expect this percentage to jump another 10% next year. Mobile use will only increase and users expect full access to websites.
Enter responsive design.
Responsive design is a set of techniques, mostly using css, that allow a site to adapt to whatever device it is on. Content rearranges itself based on browser size. Four columns become three become two become one. Images resize. Menus collapse.
Check out these higher education examples. Drag the browser window to make it smaller and see the magic happen.
We can look forward to a fully responsive new Fordham website. We’ll have just one site to rule them all (or at least inform them).