Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design (or "RWD") is a type of web design that provides a customized viewing experience for different browser platforms. A website created with RWD will display a different interface depending on what device is used to access the site. For example, a responsive website may appear one way on a laptop, another way on a tablet, and still another way on smartphone.

Today, many people access websites from mobile devices, rather than desktop computers or laptops. While most smartphones can display regular websites, the content is difficult to read and even harder to navigate. Therefore, many web developers now use responsive web design to provide a better web browsing experience on small screens.

Websites designed for mobile devices (such as iOS and Android phones), typically have a larger default font size and simplified navigation. Some sites also take advantage of the touchscreens interface, providing support for swiping, rotating, and pinching and zooming. A mobile-optimized website may also remove unnecessary content to reduce the need for scrolling. Image rollovers and other mouse hover features are often removed, since touchscreens don't support a mouse pointer.

There are several ways to implement responsive web design. One method is to dynamically detect the user's platform (such as an iPad or iPhone) and load specific HTML and CSS for the corresponding device. Another option is to use media queries, which automatically load different CSS styles depending on the size of the browser window. The Bootstrap package, which contains several prewritten JavaScript and CSS files, is based on media queries and is commonly used in responsive web design.

Updated August 20, 2013

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