More on Responsive Design

by on April 26, 2013

Philly Tech Week (PTW) is a week-long series of events all about technology progression within Philly. Everyone at Inverse Paradox has been checking out the exciting events PTW has to offer. I decided to attend an event called “Living Responsively: Creating Websites That Work Across Devices,” presented by Jim Keller. His talk was about why we should create responsive websites, and I learned about the beginnings of responsive design and why we use it today.

But let’s start with, “What does responsive mean?” Responsive design is when your website scales and repositions to adapt to the size of the screen that it’s being displayed on. Want to know more about responsive design? Read this article.

“Graceful degradation” was the term used to explain how designers are accustomed to designing. Responsive design used to be viewed as an upgrade to your full screen site. Designers would then go back to a site and optimize it for mobile view.


Now that responsive is no longer viewed as an upgrade but more of a necessity, “progressive enhancement” is the phrase that Jim used to describe how sites should be designed now. This is the opposite of graceful degradation. Progressive enhancement is when you start designing from mobile and work your way up to the full screen. This gives the designer the opportunity to start with the smallest version of the site and move up to the largest. This ensures that the most important information will appear on the site from a mobile view all the way up to the full screen view.


I think that progressive enhancement is a good way of looking at responsive design, but it’s not the only way. Modular design is common for designing responsive sites. You can think about all of the information as puzzle pieces, and then arrange all of the pieces and how it would function best for each device that the audience could view it on. Modular design doesn’t always mean that you start from mobile and work your way up, but rather, make all of the pieces able to function for each device.

The most impactful thing that Jim said was that you have to understand that you don’t know what device the audience will view your site on and you can’t optimize your site for every device, but you can make sure that it looks clean and is efficient for the user by utilizing responsive design.

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