If you’re not familiar with the phrase “responsive website design” don’t feel bad, it’s not really your job to stay informed about these issues. However, there is a very good chance you have already seen it in action.

Responsive website design is a hot topic for web designers like myself. In simple terms, responsive website design is a way to build a website in a manner that will “respond” to any screen size. Instead of defining a website in pixels, the layout is defined as percentages. That way, the website will work on every smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer.

Using “media queries” responsive websites gather not only information about the screen size, but also what kind of device it is. Touch enabled devices may render images differently as compared to laptops. Once a screen size is determined, dynamic content is sized fluidly to fit the screen.

“Global mobile data traffic grew 70% in 2012.” – Cisco Visual Networking Index

Why Does Responsive Website Design Matter?

First and foremost, as designers we want your information to display as beautifully as possible, regardless of the screen size or device. Not to mention, if your site breaks down on a mobile device you might lose a sale or a lead. I wouldn’t want that to happen, and I’m quite certain neither would you.

With the rapid increase in mobile device usage, this is a very big deal for designers. Many companies are already scrambling to rewrite some of their website code to facilitate the demand. Your website needs to make a lasting impression and in most cases it is also your first impression. You know what they say about first impressions.

“The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2013.” – Cisco Visual Networking Index

Should I Upgrade My Website?

Overall trends suggest you will be better off with a responsive website design in the long run. However, by reviewing traffic reports from your website, we can determine how many of your visitors are actually using a mobile device. For a site like Mashable.com it is well over 30%. That is why they recently redesigned their site to be responsive. If you resize your browser window on the aforementioned website, you will see what I mean.

The good news is your site might already be responsive ready. Many of the websites I have built in the past can be retrofitted with a responsive framework.

Over the past several months I have researched and experimented with responsive design techniques. In my ongoing attempt to stay fresh and current, all of my future website projects will be responsive.