Responsive web design, to put it simply, is how a website “responds” to being displayed on devices with different screen sizes. This ranges from different monitor resolutions all the way down to phones and tablets, and even watches and other wearable tech.
The reason this has become so important to consider is because the way people are using the internet has changed a lot since the 90s. No longer do you need a clunky beige desktop pc connected to a phone line through the wonders of a dial up connection in order to access information. The internet now lives in your pocket. The majority of people, both in South Africa and the rest of the world, access the internet via their mobile phones. By 2017, it is predicted that 91% of all internet users will be accessing the internet via their smart phones. (Source) (http://dazeinfo.com/2014/01/23/smartphone-users-growth-mobile-internet-2014-2017/)
This is why it’s essential to have a “mobile first” attitude when it comes to thinking about your web site. How will the information you want to convey come across to someone reading it on their mobile? Perhaps your reader is not in their office, but rather on the bus, the train, or even at a restaurant or the beach. This is exciting because it means more people, in more locations, can be reached than ever before. It is also challenging. Images need to be kept to a reasonable size to ensure precious (and expensive) data is not wasted and responsive layouts need to be created to ensure a pleasant user experience across all these new devices.
The web is an ever changing landscape of virtual real estate, and while the idea of responsive web design is not necessarily new, it definitely has to be front and centre when thinking about your new website.