Responsive Design
Responsive web design is not new; we’ve been developing responsive sites for several years now – long enough to have learned a few things:
1
What is responsive design? 

A responsive site is one that adjusts its design based on the size of the window you are looking at it with. But did you know that there are actually several different ways of doing responsive web design? This site does a great job of demonstrating the difference: http://www.liquidapsive.com/.

2
There are different kinds of responsive web design. 

Typically, we design our sites as responsive – meaning they have a series of resizable breakpoints (or liquid layouts). A breakpoint is the point at which a site design breaks to a new layout. The advantage of this type of design, from a user’s point of view, is that the site looks good at nearly every browser size, including phones, tablets and desktops.

3
With truly responsive web design, you have to give up some control.

The disadvantage of responsive web design is that we do not have nearly as much control over the design as we would with adaptive web design because the site shifts and moves. If you need more control over the layouts, you might want to choose adaptive design. Adaptive design only has a set number of layouts: desktop, tablet and portrait phone, for example. This has the advantage that you can predefine the browser window size that will be designed and tested at; nothing changes in between those sizes. We have some clients whose regulatory department insists on adaptive layouts so they can be assured of consistency across all users and devices.

4
Responsive web design does not like curves.

If you love curves in your design, be flexible when the designer presents the layouts. Curves do not work well in responsive design, as the curve changes shape as the site is resized.

5
Devices and browsers should be determined up front.

The disadvantage of responsive web design is that we do not have nearly as much control over the design as we would with adaptive web design because the site shifts and moves. If you need more control over the layouts, you might want to choose adaptive design. Adaptive design only has a set number of layouts: desktop, tablet and portrait phone, for example. This has the advantage that you can predefine the browser window size that will be designed and tested at; nothing changes in between those sizes. We have some clients whose regulatory department insists on adaptive layouts so they can be assured of consistency across all users and devices.

What we have learned

Responsive web design is the standard today, but it’s not the only way to design your site. It’s important to ensure that mobile users – who make up more than a third of all web traffic in Canada – have a good experience on your site.

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