Responsive Web Design Overview

A responsive web design allows your website to be viewed across multiple screen sizes while maintaining the websites integrity. This means that as the screen width decreases, your website doesn’t shrink. It remains very readable and usable.

To allow for readability and usability, the website will rearrangement some items but still try to keep a consistent look. For example, the sidebar might disappear. The navigation menu may flip from horizontal to vertical.

These rearrangements usually happens at certain screen widths and not all at once. The website will adjust itself based on screen width. If there is not enough room for the sidebar at 450 pixel width, for example, the sidebar will disappear. This prevents horizontal scrolling.

The absence of horizontal scrolling is a critical component of a responsive web design. Users of a responsive web design enabled site should be able to do everything on the site with only horizontal scrolling.

While the user does get a rich experience even at smaller screen sizes, it doesn’t mean all functionality is available at the smaller screen size. A responsive web design tries to provide readability and usability along with core functionality.

Core functionality means that some of your website’s functionality may not be available on a smaller screen or mobile device. For example, Java, Javascript or Silverlight dependent functionality may not be available on smaller screens. Usually, the absence of this functionality will not compromise the website.

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