If you’re planning a career in Web Design, you might as well shift your focus just a bit and add the term “Responsive” to your title. Responsive web design is more than just another creative trend, it is an evolutionary step in website creation that experts believe is here to stay. There are multiple advantages to honing responsive website design skills, not the least of which is its “one size fits all” approach. Whether your clients view your website design on a large high-resolution monitor or the smallest of smartphone screens, responsive website design ensures that your designs, and the client’s information, translates appropriately within the ever-changing framework of of web browsing devices.

In a nutshell, regardless of the screen you are looking at, across a wide range of devices, responsive web design (RWD) ensures optimal viewing ability. For example, if you click on Create Digital Media’s website from a desktop, you can minimize, expand, elongate, or shrink the screen’s view to smartphone proportions and it will “miraculously” adjust.
The Responsive Web Design Movement – What You Need to Know

The Responsible Parties

It wouldn’t be fair to pay homage to the ingenuity of responsive web design without giving appropriate kudos to its creator, Ethan Marcotte. Similar to the Buddhist idea that “all created things are transient,” Mr. Marcotte recognized that web – and graphic – designers face a unique challenge. Unlike that of architecture where the (general) aim of the product is permanence, their medium is always changing. In fact, web designers have to be experts at instantaneous problem solving, and then re-problem solving when the next wave of trends passes through. Along these lines, a client requesting an iPhone website gets just that – a separate website design that works on an iPhone’s browser. Problem solved! Marcotte decided this just wasn’t efficient enough.

He was able to think ahead and found one way that web designers could keep pace with browser innovations, rather than always feeling a bit behind. He said, “Aha! Websites are not like pieces of paper and therefore, our work does not have to be restricted by page-like boundaries. Nor should we be at the mercy of techy inventions. We designers need to be a step ahead.” Hence, the creation of responsive web design.

Components of Responsive Web Design
RWD is not a single component designers can implement. Rather, it requires a collection of techniques and ideas to be successful, such as:

  1. Fluid grids. Making the transition from fixed- to liquid layouts is a key element of RWD. Without it, your website can never make the adequate leap for your “one size” to “fit all.” Fluid grids go a step beyond traditional liquid layouts by prioritizing perfect proportions, rather than rigid pixels.
  2. CSS3 media queries: Media queries pick up where fluid grids leave off. Need a more difficult 3-column page to adjust appropriately? Media queries make adjustments according to the site visitor’s device – keeping minimum width media features in mind.

Although minimum widths are important to keep in mind in terms of today’s evolving smartphone and web browser technologies, it is also important to think big. There is a simultaneously growing need for applications which address large screen high-definition challenges as well.

How Do You Become the Next RWD Innovator?
Educate yourself!
RWD is a prime example of why a strong educational background in web design is so important. While talent, inspiration, and intuitive talents are desirable traits in a field that demands creative and innovative minds, educational programs provide both the foundational – as well as future – resources for today’s web designers. Make sure you attend an accredited and reputable institution that offers web design certification programs. Even better is to find a credible diploma program in web design. Not only will it provide you with quality instruction from some of the industry’s leading experts and professionals, a solid web design program will ensure you emerge with a career worthy portfolio and a respectable degree and/or certifications to boost your resume’s allure.
Never stop learning!
When you have chosen a career in a field as transient as graphic design, website design, and/or technology, it is imperative that you never stop learning. You must remain competitive in your field so you can rise above your peers and expand your career (and earning) opportunities. Ways to do this include:

  • Perusing industry blogs to learn about emerging trends and predictions
  • Taking advantage of online tutorials
  • Keeping in touch with your Alma Mater to learn about future courses that will build upon your original degree or certification(s).

The web design movement is exactly that – a fluid enterprise in which s/he who hits the moving target wins. Are you utilizing responsive web design practices? If so, share your successes – or challenges – with your fellow design community. Tell us about how RWD has transformed your web design strategies.