Skip Navigation
Request Training

Responsive web design, or responsive design, is here to stay. In fact, it appears that it is far more than a design choice, but soon will be the way all content works online. In the near future, we won't think of our experience on the web in any other way.

Getting to responsive is going to take some work. We are seeing with customers that the very first step is understanding - and embracing - a new way of thinking about content, and about building content on your website.

What is Responsive?

Responsive is a totally different approach - or technology - in building web content that allows the content to resize and move to best fit the users screen. 

Past to Present

In the past - or your site currently - you have a fixed site. That means your site was designed to be a certain width across, such as 980 pixels wide. It probably has unlimited height (or length) of inside pages, but the home page is likely fixed with height too.

When a fixed site is displayed on a smaller screen, the device chooses how to display it. Some devices simply shrink the entire page down so that it "fits" on the screen, no matter how small or illegible it might be. Other screens may not shrink, but just display and let most of the site fall off the screen edges, causing left to right scrolling, up and down scrolling, or worse, just not moving at all.

And fixed sites on desktops can be problematic today too. New screen and monitor technologies have been around for a while, and those display at high resolution, making your fixed site look tiny, taking up only a portion of the screen. Worse, the quality is "off" or "fuzzy".

In all of the scenarios above, it is a less than desirable end-user experience, and in our fast paced culture, your users sometimes won't bother trying to read or navigate your site - they'll be on to other sites that appeal to them. 
 

Present to Future

Responsive takes web content and does a combination of seamlessly resizing (which is different from shrinking!) and moving, or flowing, content to fill the screen framework with which it is being displayed. 

This means that every user, on every device, will see a different view of your website, but that they will all be able to read, enjoy and experience your website perfectly!

Look at this image to get an idea of the responsive concept:

As the image above depicts, the water forms to fill whatever vessel contains it. So will content on a website with responsive design.  

This is accomplished through:

  1. The design concepts are based on responsive principles and best standards. Responsive design is absolutely essential for all responsive websites, and must be done at the very start of the project.
  2. Responsive coding, which has some differences from the "traditional" web design coding of the recent past.
  3. Content building with responsive flow in mind.

Gone is the fixed site. To enable responsive, websites are built on percentages and relativity.

Understanding How to Have a Responsive Website

To have a responsive site, you have to change to a responsive design. This means an entirely new site design. You cannot take your existing School Site (or any existing website) and just make a few changes or upgrade code and have the site fully responsive. One of our favorite quotes here is "Begin with the end in mind." That is truly what must happen for responsive design. You have to design to support the content resize and flow.

School Site currently offers all of our Signature Themes and Custom Designs as responsive websites. While there are costs and time resources involved in getting a new design, the reality is that web is changing faster than ever and all websites need to be refreshed or totally new continually.

Keep in mind that building a new design with School Site is a setup cost only. Your monthly service fees do not need to change for existing School Site customers, and you have the added benefit of the option of building a new site or wrapping the design over your existing content.

Our sales team is happy to explain the options, cost and timelines for getting a new website design. Start a conversation by emailing schoolsite@renweb.com.

Do I Really Need a Responsive Website?

Yes! For some, perhaps not today. For others, yes, today.

This answer is going to be different for each organization, and it depends on your end-users and your website purposes.

As the marketplace for devices grows - more people are doing most, or all, of their web browsing on devices versus the traditional computer or laptops. Those devices range from hybrid-mix touch screen/laptops to tablets to smart phones and even other types of devices like multipurpose televisions and even the new breed of what was known as gaming consoles.

Consider this:

  1. Mobile browsing currently represents nearly 35% of all browsing, and is expected to overtake desktop browsing in 2016. That's JUST mobile phones, not tablets and other devices.
  2. Tablets can be their own category and in the U.S. they currently represent about 10% of the browsing stats. Again, expect growth in this area.
  3. Tablets and similar types of devices are more affordable, which is resulting in an increase of households that are using tablets as their main browsing device.
  4. The desktop category, which includes laptops, and traditional desktops, have rapidly changing monitor technology. Newer resolutions and display technology directly impact websites and website design.
  5. Touch screens are found in both devices and desktop type of computers alike. Responsive design factors in key elements for touch vs mouse pointer.

Keep in mind that responsive design is not just about smaller screens - but equally about larger screens AND touch screens. 

Now think about your current end users and your intended end users. What are they likely to be using to view your website? How will that change next month, or the next 6 months from now?

With those answers and thoughts, you can think and plan for your site update to a responsive site. 

Content Building for Responsive

This is important to include in this article, and we'll be creating more help resources on this topic.

If you update to a new responsive website design, you will be using our new Responsive Site Manager CMS system. This has added enhancements and changes from the Site Manager you know and use today. Tools have been added and changed to help you build content that works responsively. 

Even with the help of tools in the system, there are a few things you'll need to know, like starting out with high quality (large file size) images and understanding that all links and click-through items on your site have to be touch-friendly (think: space or padding!). 

Don't worry - we'll help you with this transition and provide ongoing support as you work to update your site content. Within a short time, you'll be building content for responsive viewing without a second thought!

If you are interested in learning more, email schoolsite@renweb.com or call 1-866-800-6593 (select 3 and then 3 again at the prompts).