What is responsive web design?

Say responsive web design to a room full of designers and you’re liable to get a roomful of groans. So what is responsive web design and why is it such a nightmare?

So, what is responsive web design?

Responsive web design means making websites which change according to the device the user is using. For example, a website can detect if it’s being viewed on a mobile device and display a layout which has been designed accordingly.
Responsive web design will avoid the need for scrolling, zooming and resizing by the user.

And why is it such a nightmare?

The reason it’s such a nightmare is that the number of devices and technologies are constantly changing, so it’s almost impossible to create something that works across all platforms. Creating a design that works elegantly across various browsers, screen sizes and resolutions and takes advantage of the latest sexy, slick scripts but doesn’t break on clunky ancient machines can eat up days and weeks.

So, should we be using it or not?

My answer to almost any question like this is – it depends. It depends on the budget, and therefore time available for the project, and how serious it is. In an ideal world you’ll have enough time to make the perfect website that will work across all platforms (until tomorrow, when another one comes out). However, if the client’s budget is too tight, then you have to compromise.
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