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If as a designer, you are working with a client who is yet to ask you to create a fully functional mobile version of their website, then you should take it upon yourself to suggest it to them. It is likely that he is new to web design and is yet to understand the implications of a desktop only website.

But these days, there are far too many mobile devices that designers are supposed to design for; from Blackberry to netbook, to Kindle, to the iPad and iPhone, just to mention a few. The screen resolutions are even more numerous. This can be an interminable headache, especially keeping in mind that there will be even more mobile devices and resolutions in years to come.

If Toronto based Web Design Agency PixelCarve was to take you back in time say a decade ago and showed you the web design landscape back then compared to the outlook today, you would understand that soon it will be impractical to design a website for each of the different mobile devices and resolutions that will be available to the masses. This is where responsive web design comes in.

Instead of wallowing in the possibility of losing business to your failure to create a version of your website to a certain demographic that uses a certain mobile device, responsive website design allows a website to adjust to the device from which a user visits it. So, let us try to conclusively answer the question: what is a responsive web design?

Unlike the web design approaches that existed before Ethan Marcotte imagined, created and introduced responsive website design, this approach suggests that development and design ought to respond to the environment and behavior of a user based on platform, screen size and orientation.

Responsive web design (RWD) refers to the art of formatting web design to make it possible for a website user to enjoy optimal navigation and viewing experience regardless of the device from which they visit the site. Therefore, RWD is not really a single technological piece, rather, it is a set of ideas and techniques that when put together form a whole, thereby optimizing a website user’s experience.

This practice includes the use of a combination of flexible layouts and grids, intelligent utilization of CSS queries and inclusion of images. The implications: if a user switches from his iPad to his laptop, the website should also make the switch essentially adjusting the images, grids, etc. to the new device the user is using.

Therefore, instead of imagining every possible device that users can visit a website from and designing a custom website for it, responsive website design presents the necessary technology to make it possible for a website to automatically detect the device of the user and automatically adjust itself to best serve those preferences. This eliminates the need for web developers to create different designs for every gadget that shows up in the marketplace.