Exeter High Street, Responsive Web Design & the W.I.

Web Designers here in Exeter have got a serious problem on their hands…

Written By
Dan Partridge

Let us explain. Take a stroll down the High Street and it will quickly become clear that the way we use the internet has radically shifted in the past 3 years. The explosive growth in mobile internet usage has radically altered the landscape, even amongst the rolling hills of Devon. You see, it’s not just the next generation of tech-savvy teenagers that are driving the use of mobile internet; it’s pensioners using their smartphones to check the bus timetable, toddlers playing with mum’s iPad and travelling salespeople ditching their netbook in favour of a tablet.

And here’s the issue; traditional web design has focussed exclusively on desktop users. Think sweeping images, multiple columns and vast quantities of text on every page. However, with even the most conservative of sites experiencing 20%+ mobile traffic, the traditional approach favoured by web designers is becoming increasingly redundant. Whilst some web designers have embraced web apps and mobile-specific websites, the maintenance required to keep multiple websites updated and SEO-effective has proved simply impossible for the majority of local businesses to manage.

This is exactly why responsive web design is being touted as the solution to this conundrum…

It’s a simple, holistic solution to the proliferation of devices populating not only universities and tech capitals but pensioners’ tea parties and WI cake sales.

A responsive website design is carefully developed to most helpfully redistribute the various elements of each page according to the device that the visitor is using. If the display resolution is 1920 x 1080, then a beautiful vista of landscape goodness with multiple columns is a winner. However, if the display resolution is 1136×640 (a 4″ iPhone screen) then a simple, stripped-down portrait format with key information, enlarged text, big buttons and one clear call-to-action is a much better solution.

In development terms,

“By marrying fluid, grid-based layouts and CSS3 media queries, we can create one design, that… responds to the shape of the display rendering it. It’s a more unified, more holistic approach to design, one that doesn’t see the web’s inherent flexibility as a constraint to be limited.” Jeffrey Zeldman

Responsive Web Design in Exeter

The great news is that responsive website design is increasingly prevalent and increasingly affordable for local businesses. It’s not just the ‘big companies’ that can embrace responsive technology (although ironically many of them are proving rather slow on the uptake!) If you speak to web designers here in Exeter you’ll find a consensus that the versatility and future-proofing that responsive web design brings should be available to local businesses. That’s exactly why we’re working hard not only to make responsive web design an industry standard, but an affordable one.

We’d encourage you to have a look at your website on a variety of devices and see what kind of experience you have. Here’s the big question: is your website accessible for somebody on Exeter High Street?

In the next few months we’ll be blogging about – and developing – various facets of responsive web design. If you’ve got any questions (or would like us to address specific issues) please feel free to drop us a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

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